GEOGRAPHY: SHIFT TO REMOTE
In an effort to de-densify the campus, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Monday that it was converting to all virtual classes after reporting 135 new COVID-19 cases and four clusters within a week of having started in-person classes for the fall semester – becoming the first college to send students home after having reopened. Other institutions followed suit and reversed plans to hold in-person classes. Currently over 30% of higher education institutions are implementing a fully online or primarily online instruction for fall 2020.
In case you missed it, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum August 8 that continues to provide temporary student loan relief for 35 million student loan borrowers. Under Trump’s executive action, federal student loans will be paused until December 31, 2020, and interest will not accrue on those federal student loans. As students weigh returning to school, tuition insurance has become more popular as an option during the pandemic and some policies are changing to cover COVID-19. Tuition insurance generally covers students for medical or psychological reasons.
SCIENCE: CONTACT TRACING
As the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) began its virtual school year this week, the district announced it was launching an ambitious COVID-19 testing and contact-tracing program for all students, staff, and their families – aiming to create a path to safely reopening campuses in the nation’s second-largest school district. Currently, it is the most detailed plan to date for a U.S. school district, involving 500,000 students and 75,000 staff members. The district stated that it cannot bring back students safely in-person without a comprehensive system of testing and contact tracing.
In an ongoing attempt to mitigate the exposure of COVID-19 on the school bus and protect school bus drivers and students, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) permitted the installation of both plexiglass barriers and clear plastic soft shields under certain conditions. NHTSA in an Aug. 11 response to an email from Mike Collingwood, the vehicle inspection unit manager at the Illinois Department of Transportation, which sought clarification of plexiglass barriers installed to the right side of and behind the driver’s seating position. NHTSA also responded to a question regarding the installation of clear, plastic soft shields that would be installed to the right of and behind the driver, and/or installed throughout the passenger compartments by attachment to the interior roof and to the seatback of passenger seat. We wish everyone a safe return to school.
On the Road Again
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said Tuesday that it is opening up a comment period on a request from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Small Business Transportation Coalition (SBTC) that could lead to a requirement that brokers automatically share documentation on transaction with drivers and other parties to a deal. Parties to a transaction do have the right to receive documents but the documents need to be requested.
The OOIDA request would require brokers to provide an electronic copy of every transaction within 48 hours “after the contractual service has been completed” and would also “prohibit explicitly brokers from including any provision in their contracts that requires a motor carrier to waive its rights to access the transaction records.” The SBTC request would “prohibit brokers from coercing or otherwise requiring parties to brokers’ transactions to waive their right to review the record of the transaction as a condition for doing business.” The FMCSA posed a list of questions it would like to see explored through the comments, including the specifics of what a new system might look like, if only bigger brokers would be required to disclose documentations, and other costs to brokers and the economic benefits to carriers.
Making Our Way Around the Country
In a petition filed last month and formally docketed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, medical marijuana patients and advocates are asking the justices to take up their case challenging the constitutionality of the federal cannabis prohibition. The suit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was first filed in 2017, argued that keeping marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is unconstitutional because it creates undue burdens that jeopardize patients’ lives by preventing access to what a majority of states now regard as a medicine. The Supreme Court isn’t expected to take action on the petition until next year.
Insured losses from Hurricane Isaias are estimated to be between $3 and $5 billion with $4.5 billion in the U.S., according to RMS, the catastrophe risk modeling firm. This includes estimated losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) of between $400 and $700 million. Hurricane Isaias was the ninth named storm of the 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season and the second landfalling hurricane of the season. Four of the five most intense mainland U.S. hurricanes struck in a 17-day period between Aug. 17 and Sept. 2.
GIVE KIDS THE WORLD
As we adjust to life during these challenging times, I’m saddened not to be physically at the Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference this week because my favorite day of the year is volunteering with fellow WCI colleagues at the Give Kids the World Village. I’m proud that GB continues to sponsor this event. Although we cannot be there to help around the village, WCI partnered with GKTW for home volunteer projects. My family and I are participating and I hope you do too. Stay connected, stay well, and stay safe.