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Go green: local communities’ sustainability efforts

Wayne State University’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Daryl Pierson, thinks that bringing students together who are studying different subjects, and faculty who are in different areas, to form a multidisciplinary approach about sustainability is important. “You can't really just look at it from one side in order to get something that's truly sustainable,” he said. Pierson said that those who think things are moving too slowly need to be patient and not get frustrated, but continue to share the message of efficiency and the benefits of its work. It will ultimately lead to a big difference all around. Ashley Flintoff, director of planning and space management at WSU, said there’s also interdisciplinary sharing with students, who bring in fresh ideas and teach them while also being taught. Collaboration is vital to sustainability moving forward. Flintoff hopes that sustainability is able to get woven into the everyday vernacular and become less of a thing where people toot their horn about and have banners every time they achieve something with sustainability. "You just work it into your everyday life so that eventually the goal is that everything that you do has the sustainability aspect to it,” she said. “You don't have to think about it, you just do it. It just becomes kind of normal.”
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What nursing homes need: Lockdown safety – and room for hugs

Nursing homes closed their doors to most visitors in March in an attempt to shield vulnerable residents from the virus, which has killed more than 75,000 residents and staff in long-term care this year, according to early-September Kaiser Family Foundation data. But cautionary confinement has meant a second affliction for residents, and not just for those who missed final goodbyes. Some experts on aging say isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and overall health decline. Desperate for connection, relatives of the country’s more than 1 million nursing home residents have scrambled for creative workarounds – from strained video calls to bucket truck-assisted window visits. And now, care facilities face high-stakes decisions about how to reopen safely. That means most reunions will come for the foreseeable future at a wrenching 6-foot distance. “The benefits [of visits] are really enormous,” says Peter Lichtenberg, director of Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, who also speaks from personal experience. After weeks of isolation, he visited his own father for an end-of-life exception visit at a Pennsylvania facility this spring. My dad died without anxiety,” says Dr. Lichtenberg. “I thought in large part that was because I was there.”  
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This is how Michigan colleges are carrying out classes for the fall semester

Many colleges in Michigan have begun the fall semester, and all have varying approaches to try to keep students safe from COVID-19. A few have chosen to move all of their classes online, but many are offering a mix of online, in-person and hybrid classes to limit interactions on campus. Schools like Central Michigan University and Adrian College have already had outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus after students returned, and because of that, schools such as Kalamazoo College and Eastern Michigan University have chosen to move their classes online or delay the in-person fall semester by a few weeks. Wayne State University offers five options for students, according to its return to campus plan, which include traditional course instruction, remote instruction at specific times, online instruction, hybrid classes and individually arranged classes, which include dissertations, theses and individual research credits.
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COVID-19 cases rise in spots as students return to college, parties

Students at most Michigan public universities began classes this week, and even though schools have spent months preparing for a safe return amid the pandemic, what's happening off campus is causing heightened concern. The parties were inevitable, some say. They started happening at schools where students returned to campuses earlier than most, such as the University of South Carolina, which began Aug. 20 and now has more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19. All but nine positive cases are students. In Michigan, Central Michigan University now has 260 cases traced to the Aug. 17 return of students, including people living in and around the community, according to the Central Michigan District Health Department that serves six mid-Michigan counties. At Adrian College, the number of cases reached 152, which includes 138 cases that are active, the Lenawee County Health Department reported Thursday. At Wayne State University, President M. Roy Wilson sent a letter to students, asking them to behave. Dr. Teena Chopra, an infectious disease professor at Wayne State, said getting the younger generation to embrace safe behaviors is tough. "We can control what students do on campus," she said. "But when they are off campus, we cannot control that. These social gatherings are very good examples of how we are spreading the virus, and how the transmission can happen. Right now, students tend to gather outside, which is less risky. But once the weather changes and it's too cold to be outside all the time, Chopra doesn't expect schools to be able to continue in-person instruction. "We are going to be in a different situation," she said. "I don’t think the schools and colleges in the midst of winter will be able to remain open very long. It is impossible for younger kids to comply with 100% masking, and not be within 6 feet of one another."
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How the pandemic is affecting our finances and ability to plan for the future

We’re living through one of the worst economic crises America has ever experienced. Roughly 55 million people have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic hit back in March. More than 70,000 small businesses have closed forever. The Aspen Institute estimates one in five renters are at risk of being evicted by the end of this month. With all of the uncertainty and upheaval in our economy and the world more generally, what kinds of decisions should we be making with our own money? What does all of this mean for our ability to plan for the future — or even just get through the day? Matthew Roling is the executive director of Wayne State University’s office of business innovation and teaches personal finance at Wayne State’s business school. He says many Americans are looking for ways to make sure they have cash available to them, instead of being tied up in assets. “Cash is king in a way that it really never has been before because we really don’t know what’s around the corner,” says Roling. “We’re just starting to measure the impact that this has had on the long term [health] of the US economy.” He also notes that while many working-class and low-income people are being hit especially hard during the pandemic, wealthier people are taking advantage of new opportunities to make more money. “This is becoming a tale of two economies,” he says.
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Can jobs or schools require you or kids to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Here's what we know

Most businesses are open and schools are coming back in session, but there are major concessions to the coronavirus. From kindergarten to college, schools are switching to virtual learning and businesses are operating at reduced capacity. There is a race to create a COVID-19 vaccine to beat back the virus, and now, we're looking at who can require you to get the future vaccine, and what rights you have to push back. There's a lot of hope a coronavirus vaccine can help us get back to normal life, but that only works if the public takes the vaccine. Public Health Law Expert Professor Lance Gable said confidence in vaccines is the key to public health. Gable said despite parent protest, the state can require kids to get a future coronavirus vaccine, just as other childhood shots. "State requirements of this sort, as long as they have scientific evidence supporting their necessity, often they're going to be upheld," he said. He added, "It's really important we get this right and it's really important we maintain trust." Parents can request a non-medical waiver. It will require a visit with a county health educator and during disease outbreaks, non-vaccinated kids can be excluded from school. What about your job? Federal guidance says employers can require a COVID-19 test to look for active infection but not for antibodies. A vaccine can be closer to antibody screening. “So it could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and it might be a problem for employers to do that," Gable said.
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Leading Black educators at top universities

In the upcoming issue of US Black Engineer magazine the exclusive list of educators includes M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University. Wilson became the 12th president of Wayne State University on Aug. 1, 2013. During his inauguration in April 2014, Wilson, a leading physician focused on the themes of academic excellence, biomedical knowledge and research, innovation, creativity, diversity, and what public universities must do to respond to market forces. He said he felt “truly fortunate to have experienced the challenges of the urban core culture, to have been immersed in diversity at both the local and global level, to have experienced the thrill of discovery of new knowledge and educational excellence where the highest of achievements for the public good was an expectation.” In the fall of 2018, Wayne State announced that it admitted its largest incoming class ever, a 15 percent increase over the prior year. The university’s six-year graduation rate earned the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ 2018 Degree Completion Award, which recognizes innovative and successful approaches to improve degree completion and ensure educational quality. Wayne State’s graduation rate gains were especially pronounced among first-generation, low-income, and minority students, according to the university.
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Wayne State posts guidelines for action if COVID-19 spreads

As the majority of public universities begin fall semester classes this week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wayne State University has developed a plan with specific benchmarks about when to take action to contain any potential spread of the virus. The university would take its most drastic step and depopulate the campus if testing shows positive cases within the university community to exceed 15%, or three or more clusters appear in seven days or if fewer than 15% of hospital beds and fewer than 15% of intensive care unit beds are available. The "tipping point metrics," posted online Monday, include thresholds that will trigger and guide Wayne State officials in their decision-making in the event of numerous COVID-19 cases. While many universities have a plan of when to take action, the Detroit university is among a small number of universities nationwide that are publishing specific numerical thresholds to trigger actions if coronavirus infections escalate. Wayne State made the move after watching other universities that have returned to campus and grappled with numerous coronavirus cases. It also wanted to be transparent and clear about what will happen if necessary, President M. Roy Wilson said. "I don't think the time to make a decision is ... when everything is getting worse," said Wilson, who is an epidemiologist. "You have to have some things already worked out so you are not wasting time. We know the science, and we know when things reach a certain level, it’s bad." 
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Pandemic raises anxiety for expectant mothers amid higher intensive care risk

For women who are pregnant, the pandemic can be particularly fraught with anxiety as they worry about the effects of COVID-19 on themselves and their babies, all while coping with potential job loss, child care issues and economic uncertainty. An evolving body of research — including a recent study by investigators at the Wayne State University Medical School and the National Institutes of Health Perinatology Research Branch in Detroit — has shown it's unlikely for the virus to pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus. A data analysis of U.S. cases, published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July, concluded that pregnant women are at no greater risk of dying from the virus than non-pregnant women, though they are more likely to end up in intensive care and require a ventilator. With 24 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including about 6 million in the United States and more than 100,000 in Michigan, there has been no consistent evidence of pregnant mothers passing the infection to their newborns, what's called vertical transmission. While other viral infections such as Zika, cytomegalovirus and rubella can be passed from mother to fetus, researchers led by Dr. Roberto Romero, chief of the Perinatology Research Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at Wayne State, investigated why the same isn't true of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. "The rate of vertical transmission is extremely low," Romero said. "The best estimates that we have are less than 2%, or less than 1%. There have been some reports of neonates testing positive after birth, but there is always the question: Was that virus acquired in utero, or was it acquired from a mother who is sick?" 
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Tense political culture reveals Black literature’s role in white America

In this installment, Wayne State University assistant professor of African American Studies Valerie Sweeney Prince, author of “Burnin’ Down the House: Home in African American Literature,” discusses the role of African American literature from Ralph Ellison’s time to the present, and questions whether Black literature exists in a pure form considering the white lens of the publishing industry. On the recent killings in Kenosha, Wis., Prince says the white lens impacts so many aspects of Black life, not just in literature. “When someone is tweeting ‘law and order,’ that is very clearly a frame of reference that allows a 17-year-old white kid with an assault weapon to not be seen as a murderer,” she says. When it comes to Black literature, Prince says the question is about who ultimately gets to determine what audiences read and internalize about Black life in America. “Blackness exists because it’s a culture. We have music, we have food, we have dance, we have all these things, a way of speaking, a way of just being and seeing and living in the world. But what does not exist are the mechanisms by which these things get codified and communicated outside our culture.”
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Medical experts warn that mental health of college athletes, and especially Black athletes, is being overlooked

As colleges grapple with the decision of when to resume athletic competition, the NCAA’s chief medical officer suggested mental health issues — especially among Black athletes — are getting insufficient attention. Mental health concerns were highest among respondents of color, those whose families are facing economic hardship and those living alone, according to an NCAA news release about the findings of the survey, which was conducted April 10-May 1. Greater financial pressures and more instability at home among Black athletes make separation from their teammates an even bigger issue, said M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University and a panelist. “We have to deal with those aspects with the same rigor and concentration as we do social distancing, wearing masks, sanitation of facilities,’’ Wilson said. “All those things are good. But we’ve got to look at the well-being of our student athletes also, because they’re not going to be able to come back if they don’t."
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The 19th Amendment was ratified 100 years ago — these 10 women changed politics since

The women who made up the suffrage movement a century ago were dismissed, degraded, even jailed. Yet they persisted. But even after women secured the right to vote (for most women – many women of color, especially Black women, notably remained disenfranchised even after ratification of the 19th Amendment), the fight to be elected to office was long and fraught. After helping secure the right for women to vote in her home state of Montana in 1914, social worker, pacifist and suffragette Jeannette Rankin set a new goal. Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress in 1916, four years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment and as the U.S. was debating whether to enter World War I. "She was an ardent suffragist,” said Liette Gidlow, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. “And it's not necessarily remembered this way these days, but Americans' feelings about being involved in the first World War were very mixed."
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As teachers brace for student learning losses, many worry about the impact on Michigan’s most vulnerable students

As schools across Michigan begin an unpredictable new year, teachers are facing what may seem like an insurmountable task: Helping students, particularly the most vulnerable, who’ve experienced learning loss because of the pandemic. There is little doubt that the disruption caused by COVID-19, marked by an unheard-of shift from physical to remote learning, will leave many students struggling academically. That concern runs especially deep in cities like Detroit, home to long-existing inequities and students whose communities have borne the brunt of the virus’s damage. Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor at Wayne State University, says schools offering choices between in-person and remote instruction should have considered the needs of students who may have suffered the greatest losses. Most district leaders left it up to parents to decide between the two. “Parents choose what’s best for them,” Lenhoff said. “But that really leaves it up to chance whether the students who would benefit the most from face to face are the ones who are going to sign up for it.” Lenhoff said it’s “scary, frankly,” to think about the long-term consequences for students from low-income families and students of color who attend economically segregated schools who will “are likely bearing the brunt of the learning loss.” 
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The psychology behind why some college students break COVID-19 rules

Going off to college is, for many young adults, their first real plunge into freedom and adulthood. It’s where they’re encouraged to take risks and find new connections in dining halls and laundry rooms. But those collegiate rites of passage aren’t possible if they’re largely confined to an extra-long twin bed in a stuffy dorm room, peering out at the world through barred windows. The fall 2020 semester looks a lot like that for some undergraduates who’ve returned to campus during the pandemic. And as anticipated, some of those undergrads have already started to rebel. CNN spoke with experts about the drivers behind these risky decisions, including Hannah Schacter, assistant professor and developmental psychologist at Wayne State University. Teens are also particularly sensitive to the potential rewards of risky decisions at this stage in their life. It’s not that they don’t understand the negative consequences, but they struggle to regulate those impulses that lead them to take risks because the potential reward is too great, said Schacter, who leads a lab at Wayne State University on adolescent relationships. “It’s this combination of being restricted from social contact for a while at an age where spending time with peers is so essential to development, to making teenagers feel good, and so, there’s some sort of calculation going on where the perceived benefit — ‘I get to spend time with friends’ — seems to be outweighing the potential costs,” Schacter said. When you plop students back on campus after a spring and summer spent cooped up in their childhood bedrooms, many of them will take those opportunities to connect with their friends and strangers. Their fear of the virus may be overtaken by their eagerness to connect, she said. “No one’s going back to college because they want to sit in their dorm all weekend by themselves,” Schacter said. “Peers are so essential that it’s no coincidence that we’re seeing these behaviors more and that they’re particularly peer-oriented,” Schacter said.
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Schools caught in a ‘no win’ reopening situation

“School 2020 is going to be radically different than school 2019. No educator, administrator or parent has a model, and there is no one model that will work for all schools,” said Roland Coloma, professor and assistant dean, Division of Teacher Education, at Wayne State University. “The lack of universal internet access, for us to implement a fully online teaching and learning format, is one issue, as is full speed broadband. If they're using Zoom or Google classroom with 20 to 25 students – that's a lot of internet and broadband. We will also need to insure that every family will have enough computers, tablets, devices, as well as for parents or caregivers. We are also assuming that these homes will have an adult present who can supervise these children, and are not working outside the home.” Lauren Mangus, PhD, assistant professor for educational psychology at Wayne State University, offers a sobering consideration faced by all educators this year: “We're trying to cram education into a crisis. This is an ongoing tornado. This virus is not detectable to the naked eye. When students are stressed, it can manifest in different ways and can impede learning. School is important, but it is very difficult when students are stressed.”
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Has the Detroit Institute of Arts lost touch with its home town?

The Detroit Institute of Arts had just avoided selling off parts of its collection to help pay the debts of the city that owned it. It had a new, independent ownership structure, new revenue streams and a new standing as a museum that tried to replace the foreboding demeanor of many art institutions with a more welcoming, visitor-centered experience. And it had a new director, Salvador Salort-Pons, who had come from its ranks, a charismatic curator and Spanish-born scholar of Velázquez, who seemed to understand its struggles and its future and who took office to a rousing ovation at a board meeting in 2015. But five years later, at a time when museum leaders across the country are being challenged on whether their institutions are systemically racist, few are confronting as many thorny issues as Salort-Pons. “There has been discontent,” said Jeffrey Abt, professor emeritus at Wayne State University who has written about the history of the institute. “I can see how it is potentially perilous. On one side are the unhappy staff members who are objecting to Salvador’s administration,” he added. “On the other side are the friends outside the museum he has made over the years who think that, here, they have someone who is championing their cause.” Bill Harris, a writer and emeritus professor of English at Wayne State University, said he visited the institute as a young boy even though he didn’t feel welcome. “It has evolved from that, but it’s still a white institution,” he said. Melba Joyce Boyd, a professor in American Studies at Wayne State University, said that she respects much of what Mr. Salort-Pons has done but because of its location and audience, she said the institute has special responsibilities. “The D.I.A. should be the number one place for African-Americans in the whole country,” she said. “Detroit should be taking a lead on a lot of these issues.”
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What COVID-19 can teach us about community resilience

COVID-19 has left many feeling isolated and alone. However, disasters like this impact whole communities, which means that effective solutions to disaster-related stress can be found in community connections and community-based partnerships. Erika London Bocknek, PhD is a licensed family therapist and associate professor of Educational Psychology at Wayne State University. She directs the Family Resilience Laboratory at Wayne State, is associate editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Infancy and Adversity and Resilience Science. Bocknek participated in a Q&A about the issues of isolation and loneliness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
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WDET to Broadcast the 2020 Detroit Jazz Festival in its Entirety Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is always one of the biggest weekends for music in and around Detroit, in large part because that’s when the Detroit Jazz Festival takes over Hart Plaza each year. But because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, audience members won’t be heading downtown to watch the festival in person this year. But there’s good news — the show will go on. WDET is returning as a live broadcast partner of the Detroit Jazz Festival for the first time since 1999. WDET will provide a wall-to-wall, uninterrupted broadcast of more than 40 hours of festival performances over Labor Day weekend Sept. 4-7. Chris Collins is the president of the Detroit Jazz Festival. He told Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today that the festival has been working on contingencies for months. “The ‘Pandemic Pivot’ — it’s a new dance, we’re all working on it,” jokes Collins. “When we talk about WDET returning as a broadcast partner, I mean, what a perfect fit,” he continues. “This is why public radio is so important and is worth everybody’s support…We wanted to make sure this was truly free and available to everybody and the answer to that was WDET, our public radio partners… If people don’t have online access or whatever, they can listen on the radio and they can listen with everybody else. It was a very important part of our design.”