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Survey: Most parents ‘comfortable’ with kids in school this fall

Plus: U of M experts urge feds to overhaul current approach to tracking COVID-19 outbreaks; gag order issued in cases against ex-MPD officers; lawmakers question state law enforcement leaders over response to Floyd protests; and more.

The Star Tribune’s Erin Golden writes, “A majority of Minnesota parents who responded to a survey from the state Department of Education say they are comfortable sending their children back to school this fall — though more than a third remain uncomfortable with or unsure about the idea of reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The department’s informal online survey, which was open between June 15 and July 6, attracted more than 130,000 responses and was offered in English, Hmong, Spanish and Somali. It included questions on school reopening and on families’ experiences with distance learning this spring, after schools shut down.”

Related. At MPR, Elizabeth Shockman says, “Over half of the 130,000 respondents to the survey said they’d had a bad or very bad experience with distance learning. The most common complaints included students not feeling empowered to work on their own, students experiencing mental health challenges due to the pandemic, and lessons that were hard to understand.  But the survey is just a sample and not ‘truly scientific’, state officials acknowledge.”

MPR’s Jon Collins reports, “A report released Thursday by infectious disease experts at the University of Minnesota urges the federal government to overhaul the current patchwork approach to tracking outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States. The report from the university’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy outlines inconsistent methods of data collection on coronavirus infections from state to state.”

The Star Tribune’s Marcus Fuller writes: “In eliminating nonconference games from fall schedules Thursday, the Big Ten made a move that impacts the major college sports landscape during the coronavirus pandemic, especially in college football. It was the first logical step toward avoiding cancellation. Still, no fall sports might still be what awaits, with uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Big Ten leaders voiced Thursday.”

Also for the Forum News Service, Dana Ferguson writes: “Top law enforcement leaders on Thursday said earlier deployment of National Guard members to assist in the response to protests, arson fires and looting in Minneapolis and St. Paul could’ve mitigated the damage that resulted in May. … Heads of the Minnesota National Guard and Department of Public Safety on Thursday told a Senate panel that their reaction lagged as civil unrest grew beyond what state officials expected and as National Guard officials attempted to reset plans to mobilize an appropriate number of members to address the scene.”

An AP story says, “As George Floyd repeatedly pleaded ‘I can’t breathe’ to police officers holding him down on a Minneapolis street corner, some of the officers responded by pointing out he was able to speak. One told Floyd it takes ‘a lot of oxygen’ to talk, while another told angry bystanders that Floyd was ‘talking, so he can breathe’. That reaction — seen in police restraint deaths around the country — is dangerously wrong, medical experts say. While it would be right to believe a person who can’t talk also cannot breathe, the reverse is not true — speaking does not imply that someone is getting enough air to survive.”

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Chao Xiong of the Star Tribune writes, “The judge presiding over the cases against four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd issued a gag order Thursday prohibiting attorneys and others related to the cases from publicly divulging ‘opinions, strategies, plans or potential evidence.’ Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill issued the unusual order a day after two defense attorneys, Earl Gray and Thomas Plunkett, spoke to the Star Tribune in response to Gray’s motion to dismiss the charges against his client, Thomas Lane.”

This from KARE-TV: “The Minnesota Twins have announced a preliminary schedule for their 2021 MLB season, which would be a return to the standard 162-game slate. The Twins would begin a season with Interleague play for the first time ever with Opening Day on April 1 taking the team to Miller Park for a game against Milwaukee.

For the Forum News Service, Sara Mearhoff writes: “As the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions aimed at controlling its spread drag on, Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill to extend unemployment insurance benefits to those in the mining industry. At a Thursday hearing, state Rep. Julie Sandstede, D-Hibbing, said the Iron Range in northern Minnesota — already in a vulnerable position after ongoing tariff wars — has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.”