‘Double billing’ loophole makes virtual school even harder for special-needs families :: WRAL.com

— A number of families with special-needs students are caught in a government loophole and can’t get in-home help as they try to navigate online-only learning with their children.

In normal times, their children are in school, getting intensely personal help in small classrooms. But with many school systems across North Carolina, including the largest ones in the Triangle, holding online-only classes, that’s happening through a computer screen now.

In normal times, the families can get federally funded waivers to hire in-home help when their children aren’t at school. But virtual learning counts as school, prohibiting parents from getting that help during school hours. Schools get federal funding for special-needs education, and in the U.S. government’s eyes, spending tax dollars on in-home help during the school day counts as double dipping.

“This money’s just sitting there,” said Jennifer Pfaltzgraff, executive director of

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Maine Voices: For many kids, distance learning makes healthy eating a lot harder

When schools closed in response to COVID-19, educational platforms, websites and applications became a daily part of students’ lives. Homes replaced school buildings, and computers replaced classrooms.

Maine recently secured internet access for students facing connectivity issues so all students can learn remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Many Maine school districts are adopting hybrid models this school year. In Portland, about 10 percent of students are expected to learn remotely full time. Depending on the school, the rest may attend classes in person for several days a week while learning online the others.

Distance learning can protect students from the immediate threat of COVID-19. But students’ increased use of digital learning tools could exacerbate another, long-term public health problem: diet-related disease.

The COVID-19 crisis has made clear that our diets are putting us in danger. Patients with obesity, diabetes and hypertension are more vulnerable to the virus, meaning that healthy

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Let’s work harder to end racism, health disparities

The effects of COVID-19 are inseparable from systemic racism, and the first step to solving a problem is recognizing its existence.

Cities and counties in my home state of Ohio have led the charge in declaring racism a public health crisis. And I joined colleagues Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to continue the effort at the federal level.

We introduced a Senate resolution that declares racism a national public health crisis, and acknowledges the systemic barriers that people of color, especially Black Americans, continue to face in our healthcare system.

Of course we know a resolution alone won’t solve the problems created by centuries of racism; systemic racism still exists—and is perpetuated—in so many of our societal institutions. This resolution is an important step toward recognizing the racial disparities in healthcare while also outlining concrete actions that we can take now to help reverse these disparities.


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