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Gov. Whitmer extends COVID-19 restrictions by 12 days

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Screenshot 2020 04 14 11.14.54

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) announced on Monday that her state’s indoor dining and in-person classes restrictions will stay in effect for 12 more days up through December 20, followed by “cautious re-engagement” in combatting fight the growing spread of the novel coronavirus, The Detroit Free Press reports.

“Right now, 79% of all hospital beds are occupied—the hospital capacity issue that we are dealing with right now is different than it was in the spring,” Whitmer said. “Because in the spring, different parts of our state had different COVID numbers, patients could be transferred from one area that had […] higher COVID numbers to an area that had lower COVID numbers before they ask for staff to come in and help in places that were being overwhelmed.”

Like many other states, Michigan is facing a shortage of space in its hospitals with the increased caseload.

“Unfortunately, that is not the case right now because hospitals across Michigan are all filling up,” Whitmer added. “Hospitals across the country are all filling up.”

Michigan health officials announced three-week-long restrictions on November 15 in response to the mounting number of COVID-19 cases. These guidelines, which went into effect on November 18, were originally supposed to expire at the end of the day Tuesday, The Free Press reports.

“We have made progress during this three-week pause. Cases and mobility have started to level off,” Whitmer stated.

On top of public mask mandates and gathering limits, the restrictions outlawed indoor dining at restaurants and bars, effectively shuttered entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, banned in-person classes for high schools and colleges, and temporarily suspended high school sports, The Free Press writes.

Outdoor gatherings of 25 people or less are permitted while retail stores and salons can stay open as long as they follow Michigan’s face mask order. Unlike the restrictions from March and April, these new restrictions will not be a complete economic shutdown.

According to the state’s data, over the course of Sunday and Monday, the average number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has been 4,675 per day.

Furthermore, Dave Boucher and Kristen Jordan Shamus of The Free Press write that the move to extend guidelines implemented in the middle of last month will be met with fierce criticism from businesses and Republicans, who control both chambers in the state legislature.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Remote Learning Lowered Test Scores in Every State; Minority Students Hit the Worst

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Remote Learning

A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows remote learning has had a negative impact on students’ test scores in every state. Not only were students across the country affected, minority students were impacted the most.

According to the publication, remote learning led to declines in test scores for English and math, when compared to scores of students who went to schools with more in-person learning. “Our research shows that test score losses are significantly larger in districts with less in-person learning,” said Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University.

“This suggests, yes, that virtual learning was – and is – less effective than in-person learning, at least as measured by school-based testing” added Oster. “Passing rates in math declined by 14.2 percentage points on average; we estimate this decline was 10.1 percentage points smaller for districts fully in-person,” the study found.

The research combined “district-level schooling mode data from the 2020-21 school year,” “district-level test score data from 2015 to 2021” and “demographic data from the NCES,” according to the study.

Data was collected from students in third to eighth grades in 12 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Score declines showed variations by state, as well. Virginia “which had the most complete virtual learning time, along with Colorado, saw an almost 32% drop on math test scores in the 2020-21 school year when compared to the 2018-19 school year” reports Tampa Free Press.

Wyoming, however, “which had the most in-person learning, along with Florida, saw just a 2.3% drop in English, the study found.”

“Changes in English Language Arts (ELA) were smaller than math scores overall, but drops in scores were greater in districts with larger black and Hispanic populations and students eligible for free and reduced lunch prices” reports Tampa Free Press.

“Districts that have a larger share of black and Hispanic students and less in-person schooling also saw a greater decline in ELA test scores than those with more in-person schooling. “

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