TUESDAY NEWS HIT - "...you're going to eat a crap sandwich or you're going to starve to death..."
Neither option sounds enticing but it's the position that most parents with children feel about the fall start to the school year. For one parent in the South Lyon school district who was paraphrasing the superintendent, "you're going to do what you feel is best for your children." In the case of South Lyon, along with most other school districts in the lower half of the state, the school board has opted for a virtual start to class with the opportunity to assess an in-person choice later on.
During a marathon zoom call that extended well into Tuesday morning, parents aired their grievances and offered their take on the best decision moving forward. Among the 70 public comments that board president Carrie Hanshaw read, most were in favor of an online option to start class. That contradicted the overwhelming sentiment a survey of parents in the district found, which noted 80% wanted in-person class.
"As parents and taxpayers and everything, we just want to have a better say in how things are implemented," said Tammy Oliver, who has two kids in school.
"We need to have our teachers be essential and do the same. That's what it's all about and school should never be a choice for government. It should be a choice for the people," said Gloria Sigouin, a parent.
Depending on the parent, the crap sandwich could be the in-person option and starving to death might mean online learning - or the other way around. The big push to keep school buildings closed and learning at home is to decrease the transmission of COVID-19. While children are shown to be less susceptible to the threats the virus poses, there are still health risks.
Children would make excellent vectors for the virus due to the to-and-from travel from school to home, where people who are more threatened by the virus may reside. A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association shows that in the first two weeks of July, nearly 100,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for the virus.
"We just showed it here now. What we do know is that the children, especially those around the age five, carry a higher viral load than some adults do. And even though they carry the higher viral load they may not have necessarily the symptoms but may be more contagious especially to older, more immunocompromised adults or adults in the home with them have chronic conditions," said Dr. Sam Allen, head of Troy Beaumont's Pulmonary Critical Care.
That study also showed that the rate of infection among children was higher in Black and Hispanic youth.
In one well-reported example out of Georgia of what back to school can look like in the age of the pandemic, at least 260 students and eight teachers were quarantined after several others tested positive for COVID-19 - in the first week of school.
But while most major districts in Michigan have opted to start the year with online learning, the burden of child care has been shouldered from schools and teachers to parents. For those hurting from job losses or lost wages, it can be near impossible to find another job when one has to watch their kids at home. Another issue is the availability of food, of which many children rely on schools to provide during the school year.
Big 10 College Football decision comes today
While the necessity of school represents the biggest burdens that parents face these days, concerns in higher education have also grown. While the status of college classes remains fluid, the decision regarding college athletics appears to be much more ambiguous.
In the case of the Big 10 and football, a decision to continue on with the fall schedule will come today at 10:30 a.m. Whispers of a season cancelation grew into shouting speculation after a well-known sports radio talk show host said sources informed him the Big 10 and the Pac 12 had voted to not continue on with their seasons.
Per a 12-2 vote among college presidents in the Big 10, it appears the season may already be done before it got started, says Dan Patrick. Other conferences are on the fence, while the football conference in the sunbelt states across the southeast are trying to delay a start to the season, advocating to get other teams to join them.
The Mid-American Conference, which makes up Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan, had their season canceled earlier this summer.
Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement shortly after the news streaked across the Internet, advocating for the season to go on. Using "facts accumulated over the last eight weeks" showing a low infection rate among players and staff in the department, he said it's possible to have a season even amid the pandemic.
Michigan State wasn't so lucky. Most of the team was forced to quarantine after players and staff tested positive for the virus earlier in the summer.
Candidate for state House cries foul after late absentee ballot surge in primary race
Among the first controversies related to election security following Michigan's primary race came out Monday, less than a week since the election.
A candidate for the 10th District, which makes up parts of Wayne County, the city of Detroit and Redford Township, says she was leading until a stunning upturn in absentee votes put a challenger above her.
"One hundred percent of Wayne County precincts were supposedly in. I had won. Everybody moved like I had won. People from Lansing were calling me to set up meetings for next week," Brenda Hill said. "The Wayne County Clerk had congratulated me."
While it was the absentee votes that put her challenger, Mary Cavanagh in the lead, Hill says it wasn't the late-counted votes, but "deliberate corruption."
Hill was alluding to issues reported out of Redford, where a judge had originally ordered the clerk and his entire staff to leave the office from July 21-28, due to a legal spat with the township trustee.
Concerns over election integrity grew after a former employee at the clerk's office was seen emptying an absentee ballot dropbox. The deputy clerk has pushed back on those allegations.
"When you have ballots that have been emptied out of the ballot bin, which is supposed to be a secured lockbox for the ballots and you didn't even have a witness with you, that's totally questionable. Not only has the process been compromised but the ballots have been compromised," said Nicole Small.
Election officials and Michigan's Secretary of State have warned that delays in absentee vote counts would come if laws weren't changed to allow for speedier tallying of mail-in votes and the postal service wasn't given enough resources.
A break in humidity is on the way as storms fizzle out before hitting southeast Michigan. Temperatures will climb as high as 85 degrees on Tuesday.
Russia says its approved world's first COVID-19 vaccine, despite international skepticism
Russia on Tuesday became the first country to clear a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international skepticism. President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated.
Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus. However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials -- which normally last for months and involve thousands of people -- could backfire.
Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Putin said that the vaccine has undergone proper testing and is safe.
"I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests," he said. "We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world."
The Russian leader added that one of his two adult daughters has received two shots of the vaccine. "She has taken part in the experiment," Putin said.