This year’s college football season got off to a rocky start as parents protested attempts to cancel the season and President Trump jumped into the debate. And it has seen major successes, with top coaches and players testing positive for the coronavirus and team outbreaks interrupting high profile matches.
Now, for the first time, a New York Times analysis has started to quantify the toll: At least 6,629 people who play and work in athletics departments that compete in major college football leagues have contracted the virus.
Not all sports departments break down infections by sport. However, football represents a large number – but nowhere – of these athletes, while also claiming much of the attention given to varsity athletics.
The Times was able to obtain complete data from just 78 of the 130 universities in the Football Bowl subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Some universities voluntarily shared data; several did not comply until after The Times filed requests under public records laws. Many schools stopped publishing information just before the football season, when most of the documented cases started.
“We had these numbers showing the number of cases, but the reality is that the number is much larger than that,” said our colleague Alan Blinder, who related the story with Lauryn Higgins and Benjamin Guggenheim.
College athletes, coaches, and staff are among the most closely watched people in the United States. Athletes follow strict protocols and participate in rigorous public health training. Even though non-athlete students said they had to exaggerate symptoms to gain access to testing, universities tested athletes several times a week, if not daily.
“There are teams that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum to protect their players and staff from the virus, but the virus can get in,” Alan said.
As the season progressed, the virus spread through programs. The coaches have tested positive. The players have tested positive. And schools canceled game after game as epidemics skyrocketed.
It certainly could have been worse.
Most of the positive cases were asymptomatic, and no sports department sharing data has reported any deaths associated with the virus. Experts believe that virtually none of the infections in varsity sports are related to the games itself, with cases much more often attributable to meetings, meals, travel or non-sporting activities.
“People who wanted colleges to play this fall will say that when you consider that many sports departments would have greater financial difficulties without football, the risk might be worth it,” said Alan, death in high-level sports departments or any transmission linked to the actual practice of football. But a lot of other people will see those numbers, nod their heads and say ‘told you’.
Loan forgiveness in the event of a pandemic
The future of student debt is at a critical juncture in the road. Last week, the Trump administration extended a pandemic-induced pause on loan payments, but only until January.
That means payments on $ 1.7 trillion in loans held by more than 43 million borrowers are expected to resume just days after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes over as president. This is also when the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact is expected to be worse than ever.
The education department holds student loans totaling $ 1.4 trillion. Federal law gives the Secretary of Education the power to “compromise, waive or release” federal student loan debts.
Biden approved the forgiveness of $ 10,000 in federal student debt per borrower. But Democratic leaders, backed by the party’s left flank, are asking for up to $ 50,000 in debt relief per borrower, executed on the first day of his presidency.
The more ambitious plan could cost the United States $ 1 trillion. The more modest proposal Biden approved would reach around 15 million borrowers, mostly low-income, often in debt because they did not complete their education.
“The virus epidemic has accelerated some of the trends that are strangling public higher education,” said Louise Seamster, assistant professor at the University of Iowa and co-author of a Roosevelt Institute working paper that casts explicitly the cancellation of the debt in racial. terms of justice.
Around the country
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill plans to quarantine students who tested positive in the same buildings as students who were only exposed, Charlotte Geier reported for The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper.
The Saturday football match between The University of Texas at Austin and the Kansas University was canceled due to an outbreak in the Texas program, Stephen Wagner reported for The Daily Texan, the student newspaper.
Pitzer College in California will allow students to spread their four credits from spring to summer to ease the course load and alleviate student burnout during an uncertain spring semester, Hannah Weaver reported for The Student Life, the student journal of the Claremont Colleges.
From March to June, the University of California, Berkeley, projects that it will have suffered losses of 340 million dollars. The university has announced a plan to minimize job losses with a leave program and work time reductions, Emma Rooholfada reported for The Daily California, the student newspaper.
A growing concern: It might be time to rethinking college basketball. A new poll has found that 56% of sports fans in the United States believe we shouldn’t be playing indoor team sports right now. “I don’t think this is fair to anyone,” said one coach.
the Chicago The Teachers Union has published a list of demands to reopen the city’s schools. He says teachers shouldn’t have to teach students online and in the classroom simultaneously, and that individual schools should close if their zip code hits a 3% positivity threshold.
Three Catholic schools in Michigan suing the state for in-person learning bans, claiming such regulations violate their First Amendment right to practice their faith.
Washington DC has published limited data on outbreaks in schools and daycares, while acknowledging that there is no evidence of community spread in school buildings.
Maine public schools saw a sharp drop in enrollment of almost 8,000 fewer students, or about 4 percent of total enrollment, including double-digit declines in junior kindergarten and kindergarten.
A book recommendation: “A wolf at the door of school: the dismantling of public education and the future of the school” imagines “a future in which the growing movement of school privatizers in the United States has a full place” , wrote Jon Shelton for Jacobin magazine.
A good read: A Icelandic A study of 40,000 people found that children under the age of 15 are “half as likely as adults to pass the virus to other people,” National Geographic reported. “Almost all transmissions of coronavirus to children have come from adults.”
Tip: toddlers are fine
When 2-year-old Alice McGraw saw another family walking towards her this summer, she stopped and pointed. “Oh-oh,” she said. “People.”
Like so many infants and toddlers, Alice has almost no experience in a world without a pandemic. But experts don’t expect the vast majority of our youngest to experience social or emotional delays because they haven’t spent time with their peers.
This is because the most important relationships of young children are with their parents. As long as adults play with them, talk to them, and keep them engaged, development specialists say most children are very likely to be fine. Phew.
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