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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; Healthcare decision planning important for CT residents; Debt dilemma poll: Hoosiers wrestle with college costs.

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Civil Rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

COVID-19: Native American Educators Face Unique Challenges

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020   

HAYWARD, Wis. -- Educators have raised fears about reopening classrooms during a pandemic - concerns that are amplified for schools in Native American communities with higher rates of COVID infection. A Wisconsin tribal school is weighing those concerns with other barriers for students.

Superintendent Jessica Hutchison of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, said she's heard from parents fearful of sending their children to school with the coronavirus still a threat. However, other parents are feeling pressure to return to work. She said the nearby reservation has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic, leaving educators to factor in the home learning environment for some students.

"None of the trauma and turmoil that Native students face on a daily basis has gone away," she said.

That's why her staff is preparing to welcome back students who face challenges learning from home, in the safest environment possible, four days a week. Hutchison said parents also can opt for all-distance learning, and they'll be prepared to shut their building down should they see any outbreaks.

The distance-learning factor is viewed as a major hurdle for Native American and Indigenous communities across the country.

Sue Parton, who heads the Federation of Indian Service Employees, the union for staff at Bureau of Indian Education schools, said it must be addressed so that families vulnerable to the virus can help their kids succeed. Parton said the bureau needs to step up in that regard.

"A lot of the reservations are located in rural areas; there's hardly any broadband available to them," she said. "The electronic devices - I think the BIE should be providing every single student an electronic device."

The BIE oversees more than 180 tribal schools and officially operates 53 of them, none in Wisconsin. The agency turned some heads recently when it announced plans for in-person learning at schools under its control. That prompted concerns from Parton's union about the health impacts for students and staff. But the plan does allow flexibility where there are outbreaks, or for at-risk individuals.


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