Month: July 2020

Third of Britons say they may not take coronavirus vaccine

Almost a third of Britons definitely will not or are unsure about whether they will take up a COVID-19 vaccine. (PA)
Almost a third of Britons definitely will not or are unsure about whether they will take up a COVID-19 vaccine. (PA)

Almost a third of Britons say they may not take up a vaccine for coronavirus, a poll showed, as researchers warned about the amount of anti-vaccine content circulating online.

In the study carried out by YouGov for the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) research group, 6% of those polled said they definitely would not get vaccinated for COVID-19.

A further 10% said they would “probably not” have a vaccine, while another 15% said they did not know, meaning a total of 31% will not have one or are unsure about it.

Researchers also warned about the large amount of anti-vax misinformation spreading on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

The survey polled more than 1,600 people in Britain, and found 38% said they would “definitely” have a coronavirus vaccination were it made available. A further 31% said they “probably” would choose to have the vaccine, meaning 69% plan to take it.

With scientists predicting that more than three-quarters of the population would need to be vaccinated in order to have success in suppressing coronavirus, the findings could represent a threat to the ability to contain COVID-19.

Separate teams of scientists at Oxford University and Imperial College London are developing a coronavirus vaccine.

In May, the government said it had hoped there would be a vaccine available for 30 million Britons by September.

However, one health expert warned earlier this

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Chinese students take gruelling university entrance exam after COVID-19 wait

By Fang Nanlin and Carlos Garcia

BEIJING (Reuters) – Nearly 11 million high school students sat for China’s annual “gaokao” university entrance exam on Tuesday, after a month’s delay due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, state media reported.

Much of China typically shuts down during the exam, with drivers banned from honking their horns, and police on patrol to make sure students are not disturbed.

In Beijing, exam centres have set up body temperature checkpoints and require students to wear face masks. The city has been trying to quash an outbreak traced to a wholesale market early last month and reported no confirmed cases on Tuesday.

High school students have taken online classes since early February due to the virus, which some said reduced communication with teachers and peers. The exam delay, they said, prolonged the pressure.

    “We had been preparing for the June exam, then suddenly there’s another extra month. I was not prepared for the change. I almost felt like I couldn’t make it,” said an 18-year-old surnamed Jiang.  

    Parents likewise have been feeling the pressure. Large groups waited outside the venue as the students took the exam.

    “Teachers have given them a pile of studying materials,” said a parent surnamed Wang. “My printer almost broke down.”

(Reporting by Fang Nanlin and Carlos Garcia; Writing by Christopher Cushing; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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ICE says international students cannot remain in US if schools are online only

International students taking classes in the U.S. this fall could be deported if their schools switch to online-only learning during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency.

During the spring and summer, the government-run Student and Exchange Visitor program exempted international students from rules requiring enrollment in in-person classes to remain in the country.

On Monday, the program said it would soon issue a temporary final rule that walked back those exemptions for fall 2020. The guidelines come as colleges and universities across the state have begun to announce their plans for fall, most of which do not include fully reopening their campuses.

The California State University and California Community College system have decided to remain online, except for a small number of courses that cannot be taught through distance learning.

According to the guidelines, students with an F1 visa, the most commonly held student visa, cannot remain in the country while taking more than one online course, or three units. Students with M1 visas cannot enroll in any online classes. Hybrid courses are allowed — meaning students will be able to take a course if it’s at least partially taught in-person.

If classes are forced online-only again, which colleges have warned may happen if coronavirus infections surge, students will have to leave the country or transfer to another college that offers in-person classes. Students are allowed to take the online courses in their home country, according to the rule.

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Students on F-1, M-1 visas won’t be able to remain in US if all their fall classes are online

International students studying in the United States on an F-1 or M-1 student visa won’t be able to continue their studies in the fall if their school only offers online classes, according to an announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The ruling comes as schools across the country attempt to navigate how to safely reopen this fall as COVID-19 cases continue to tick upward in many areas.

Students enrolled in a school “operating entirely online” must either leave the country or transfer to a school that is offering in-person classes, ICE said.

MORE: Teachers worry about return to classroom amid surges in COVID-19 cases

“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” a news release said.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) normally limits the number of online classes a nonimmigrant student can take under its student visa program. SEVP officials had relaxed those limits for the spring and summer semesters due to the coronavirus, but the new order eliminates those temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester.

PHOTO: Students walk on the University of Pennsylvania campus. (Jon Lovette/Getty Images)

The University of Southern California announced earlier this month that undergraduate students will “primarily or exclusively” be taking online classes during the fall semester and that “on-campus housing and activities will be limited.”

On Monday, Harvard University announced only 40% of undergraduate students would return to campus in the fall.


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ICE says international students could be deported if their classes go online

As the coronavirus pandemic forces colleges nationwide to assess the risks of bringing students back to campus in the fall, the fate of thousands of international students could be hanging in the balance.

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students pursuing degrees in the U.S. will have to leave the country under the threat of deportation if their university switches to online-only classes. ICE’s release says that the State Department will not issue visas to any student taking a fully online course load, and if in-person classes are not an option at a certain university, it recommends that students who wish to remain in the country transfer to a school that offers them.

Though visa requirements have always been strict, and online-only courseloads have always been prohibited for international students coming to the U.S., ICE’s move to more-or-less ignore the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic still caught many education officials by surprise. Particularly as travel restrictions worldwide make it potentially difficult for those with visas to return home, the policy decision will force plenty of students to scramble for a solution.

“We think this is going to create more confusion and more uncertainty,” Brad Farnsworth, vice president of the American Council on Education, told CNN. “What we were hoping to see was more appreciation for all the different possible nuances that campuses will be exploring.”

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