Northeastern University Dismisses 11 Students for Breaking Virus Rules but Keeps Their Tuition

Northeastern ousts 11 students for violating safety protocols, and keeps their $36,500 tuition. In one of the harshest punishments imposed to date against students for violations of coronavirus safety protocols, Northeastern University dismissed 11 first-year students this week and declined to refund their $36,500 tuition after they were discovered crowded […]

In one of the harshest punishments imposed to date against students for violations of coronavirus safety protocols, Northeastern University dismissed 11 first-year students this week and declined to refund their $36,500 tuition after they were discovered crowded into a room at a Boston hotel serving as a temporary dormitory.

About 800 students are staying in two-person rooms at the hotel, the Westin, which is less than a mile from Northeastern’s Boston campus.

In a letter to members of the U.N.’s Security Council, the official, Mark Lowcock, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said the risk of famines in these areas had been intensified by “natural disasters, economic shocks and public-health crises, all compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Together, he said, “these factors are endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.”

The letter, which has not been made public, was conveyed by Mr. Lowcock’s office to the Security Council on Friday under its 2018 resolution requiring updates when there is a “risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity.” A copy of the letter was seen by The New York Times.

United Nations officials have said before that all four areas are vulnerable to food deprivation because of chronic armed conflicts, and the inability of humanitarian relief providers to freely distribute aid. But the added complications created by the pandemic have now pushed them closer to famine conditions.

In April, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger arm of the United Nations, warned the Security Council that, amid the coronavirus pandemic, “we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.” In July, his program identified 25 countries that were poised to face devastating levels of hunger because of the pandemic.

Mr. Lowcock’s new warning of impending famines effectively escalates those alerts. Under a monitoring system for assessing hunger emergencies, famine is Phase 5, the worst, marked by “starvation, death, destitution and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels.”

Under the changes Mr. Andrews announced on Sunday, after Sept. 13 the nightly curfew will begin at 9 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., outdoor exercise will be limited to two hours a day instead of one, and people living on their own will be allowed to have one friend or family member in their home whereas currently they can meet only with intimate partners. If the average daily rise in cases falls below 50 by Sept. 28, Melbourne will move on to the next stage of reopening.

Restrictions in the rest of Victoria, which is under a less severe lockdown, will be eased slightly after Sept. 13.

Daily new cases in Victoria have been trending downward since their peak in early August. On Sunday, the state reported 63 new coronavirus cases and five deaths, all of them linked to nursing homes. Australia, a country of 25 million people, has had a total of more than 26,000 cases and 753 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

In other coronavirus news from around the world:

  • The health ministry in Mexico said Saturday that the country had recorded 122,765 more deaths than usual from the time the pandemic started until August, suggesting that its true death toll from the virus could be much higher than reported. Mexico had recorded almost 630,000 cases and 67,326 coronavirus deaths as of Saturday night, according to a Times database, though a Times investigation in the spring found that the government was not reporting hundreds, possibly thousands, of such deaths in Mexico City, the capital.

President Trump has pushed for a coronavirus vaccine to be available by October — just before the presidential election — and a growing number of scientists, regulators and public health experts have expressed concern over what they see as a pattern of political arm-twisting by the Trump administration.

In that environment, a handful of drug companies competing to be among the first to develop coronavirus vaccines are planning to release a joint pledge meant to reassure the public that they will not seek premature approvals.

Their statement, which has not been finalized, is expected to say that the companies will not release any vaccines that do not follow rigorous efficacy and safety standards, according to representatives of three of the companies.

The joint statement was planned for early next week, but it may be released earlier since its existence was made public on Friday by The Wall Street Journal. The manufacturers that are said to have signed the letter include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi.

Pfizer and Moderna, along with the British-based company AstraZeneca, are testing their candidates in late-stage clinical trials. Pfizer’s chief executive said this week that the company could see results as early as October, but the others have said only that they plan to release a vaccine by the end of the year.

The companies must navigate perilous terrain. If they are among the first to bring a successful vaccine to market, they could earn major profits and help rehabilitate the image of an industry battered by rising drug prices.

But if a vaccine turns out to have dangerous side effects for some people, the fallout could be catastrophic, damaging their corporate reputations, putting their broader portfolio of products at risk and broadly undermining trust in vaccines, one of the great public health advances in human history.

Some states are still holding mass gatherings; several moved forward with state fairs held over the Labor Day weekend. Colorado and Maryland are both holding events, as is South Dakota, where cases have spiked in recent weeks.

The team’s Saturday match was removed from the schedule, even though the day before a match that included another player who had been exposed to the virus was allowed to take place, albeit after a delay of about two and a half hours to consider the rule change.

“This probably cost us a Grand Slam,” Michael Joyce, Ms. Babos’s coach, said of the forced withdrawal of a pair that had already won three major doubles titles together — the 2018 and 2020 Australian Open and the 2019 French Open.

Two days before the tournament began, Benoît Paire of France tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Paire was removed from play, but rules about the people in contact with him shifted over time.

Electronic contact tracing revealed that Mr. Paire had been in close contact for an extended period — in a card game at one of the two hotels housing players on Long Island and possibly through other socializing — with seven players, including Ms. Mladenovic, also of France.

After Mr. Paire’s positive test, U.S. Tennis Association officials scrambled to create a revised set of procedures for players who had been exposed but then tested negative, including daily screening and isolation from the rest of the players. The exposed players would be required to confine themselves to their hotel rooms unless traveling to the tournament’s site, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

Under those rules, Ms. Mladenovic had remained in the tournament, though after a stunning collapse in her second-round singles match, she vented frustration over her confinement.

“I have the impression we are prisoners or criminals,” she said. “For even the slightest movement, we have to ask permission even though we are tested every day and had 37 negatives. It’s abominable. The conditions are atrocious.”

The spy service of every major country around the globe is trying to find out what everyone else is up to in developing a vaccine.

China, Russia and Iran have all made attempts to steal research by some of the United States’ top companies and universities, according to U.S. intelligence agents. British intelligence has picked up signals of Russian spying on U.S., Canadian and British research. Washington and NATO have both redoubled efforts to protect the information garnered so far.

“It would be surprising if they were not trying to steal the most valuable biomedical research going on right now,” John C. Demers, a top Justice Department official, said of China last month during an event held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Valuable from a financial point of view and invaluable from a geopolitical point of view.”

China’s push is complex, with intelligence officials focusing on universities in part because they view the institutions’ data protections as less robust than those of pharmaceutical companies. Its operatives have also surreptitiously used information from the World Health Organization to guide its vaccine hacking attempts, both in the United States and Europe, according to a current and a former official familiar with the intelligence.

To date, no corporation or university has announced any data breaches resulting from the publicly identified hacking efforts. But some of the operations succeeded in at least penetrating defenses to get inside computer networks, according to one American government official.

As parents and families lost their jobs during the pandemic, many could no longer pay tuition at Catholic schools. And when churches began shutting down to curb the spread of the virus, that also ended a major source of donations — some of which would normally be allotted for parish schools.

Among the best-known Catholic schools shutting its doors is the Institute of Notre Dame, an all-girls facility in Baltimore. Some alumni are fighting to keep the school open, upset that school leaders haven’t pushed harder to avoid closure.

Drena Fertetta, an alumnus who graduated from Notre Dame in 1983, began a group dedicated to reopening the school next year, perhaps at a different site.

“There is just a sisterhood that happens to the girls who go to that school,” Ms. Fertetta said. “It’s not something we’re willing to just walk away from.”

Three deaths from Covid-19 and 147 infections have been linked to an August indoor wedding reception in north-central Maine, the spokesperson for the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday. None of those who died had attended the wedding, according to the C.D.C. spokesperson.

From the wedding in Millinocket, about 70 miles north of Bangor, transmission passed into a prison and a long-term care facility — both of which are more than 100 miles from the wedding venue.

At a recent companywide meeting, Facebook employees repeatedly argued that work policies created in response to Covid-19 “have primarily benefited parents.”

At Twitter, a fight erupted on an internal message board after a worker who didn’t have children at home accused another employee, who was taking a leave to care for a child, of not pulling his weight.

As companies wrestle with how to support their staff during the pandemic, some employees without children say they are being asked to shoulder a heavier workload. The divide is more pronounced at some technology companies, where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.

Tech companies were among the first to ask employees to work from home in the pandemic, and to offer generous leave and additional time off once it became apparent that children would remain home from school.

The tension has been most vividly displayed at Facebook, which in March offered up to 10 weeks of paid time off for employees if they had to care for a child whose school or day-care facility had closed or for an older relative whose nursing home was not open.

When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, hosted a companywide videoconference on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more Facebook could do to support nonparents.

An employee wrote in comments accompanying the video feed that it was “unfair” that nonparents could not take advantage of the same leave policy afforded parents. Another wrote that while the procedure for taking leave was usually difficult, it was “easy breezy” for parents.

A parent responded in a note on her corporate Facebook page, visible only inside the company, that the question was “harmful” because it made parents feel negatively judged and that a child care leave was hardly a mental or physical health break.

Reporting was contributed by Julian E. Barnes, Alan Blinder, Damien Cave, Christopher Clarey, Ron DePasquale, Joe Drape, Sheera Frenkel, Marie Fazio, Matthew Futterman, Jeffrey Gettleman, Rick Gladstone, Emma Goldberg, Mike Ives, Jennifer Jett, Andrea Kannapell, Sharon LaFraniere, Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Zach Montague, Ben Rothenberg, Katie Thomas, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Noah Weiland, Will Wright and Yan Zhuang.

Source Article

Next Post

Indonesia's education minister on Covid's effect on students' learning

Mon Sep 14 , 2020
SINGAPORE — There’s not enough discussion globally about the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on students’ learning as schools are closed to prevent further spread of the virus, Indonesia’s Education Minister Nadiem Anwar Makarim told CNBC on Monday. “A lot of people keep mentioning about the health crisis and about the economic […]