Thursday, May 7, 2020   
Is seltzer water healthy?
Rahel Mathews, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University, writes for The Conversation: My health conscious friends and colleagues tell me that they need an alternative to soda but plain water is too boring. They, like many people, are turning to sparkling water and flavored seltzer water. Carbonated waters are being promoted as the low-calorie or zero-calorie alternative to soda. In a 12-month period from August 2018 to August 2019, sales of sparkling water increased by 13% compared to the previous year. But is it really a healthy alternative? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I get this question all the time. As with much of nutrition, the answer is not a clear yes or no. Researchers have studied sparkling water, though not extensively, for its effects on teeth, bones and digestion. Is it bad for you? Probably not. Is it good for you? Maybe. Is it better than soda? Definitely.
MSU-Meridian recognizes outstanding graduates in Spring 2020
Five spring graduates at Mississippi State University-Meridian are being recognized as outstanding students for the Spring 2020 semester. They are among 110 students who are receiving diplomas, including 31 honor graduates, nine Riley Scholars and four Stephen D. Lee Scholars. The honorees include Kayla Maree Jordan of Sweet Water, Alabama, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the Dennis J. Mitchell Award for Excellence; Cassie L. Green of Meridian, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Business; Steven Craig Miller of Laurel, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Business; Clover Rayeann Eakes of Philadelphia, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Education; and Timothy C. Herlong of Lauderdale, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Education.
Extension specialists offer tips to manage finances
Increased social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders are leaving millions of people with reduced income or without a paycheck. But there are some steps they can take to gain control over their finances. Becky Smith, a family financial management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said people should immediately review their budgets and adjust their lifestyles. "Just the threat of COVID-19 triggers panic," she said. "The measures we are having to take to combat that threat are putting millions of families and individuals in dire financial circumstances. When we panic, we tend to lose perspective and focus too narrowly on a problem, which often makes things worse. Ignoring the situation can also make things worse. So, it's best to take control of your finances right away." David Buys, Extension health specialist, said people can cope with financial stressors in much the same way they handle the other stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The one thing I would say to people who are experiencing anxiety over their finances right now is to focus on the things you can control," he said. "Analyze your finances and come up with a plan. Just doing that can help you feel more in control, and as a result, lessen your anxiety."
Starkville parks won't reopen Thursday; mask requirement lifted for restaurant customers
Aldermen voted 5-2 on Tuesday that customers at Starkville restaurants do not have to wear protective face masks as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, in light of Gov. Tate Reeves' announcement Monday that restaurants can reopen with restrictions on Thursday. Starkville's parks, however, will not reopen Thursday even though Reeves' order allows cities the option. Aldermen Ben Carver of Ward 1 and David Little of Ward 3 spoke in favor of opening the parks and voted against Mayor Lynn Spruill's proposed resolution because it did not include such a provision. Spruill told The Dispatch the parks will likely reopen near the end of next week but will not operate at full capacity due to both financial and social distancing restrictions, so attendance will be "at your own risk." Starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, indoor dining rooms and outdoor seating areas at restaurants will each be required to have no more than six customers per table and allow up to 50-percent total capacity. Servers must wear masks, and customers entering restaurants will be asked if they have shown any signs of the virus or have been exposed to anyone who has it.
Some area restaurants open dining areas starting today
Businesses are moving forward and opening their doors. With Gov. Tate Reeves reducing restaurant restrictions, we have some hometown eateries opening their dining areas to the public at half capacity over the next week. Some Golden Triangle favorites -- The Grill, Harvey's Sweet Peppers Deli and Bulldog Burger -- all will open in-house seating Monday, giving the staff enough time to sanitize and prepare for the customers they've missed. One of Starkville's go-tos, 1883 Smokehouse, will open today for indoor seating and will even have the restaurant's famous salad bar, which will be manned by 1883 employees with masks and gloves, available from 4 p.m. to close Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Get your Cajun tastebuds ready because Oby's will be serving up po-boys in-house starting today. Ty Thames of Eat Local Starkville said Restaurant Tyler, Bin 612 and The Guest Room will reopen their dining areas starting Friday.
Restaurants gear today for expansion of dining-in service
Restaurants are eagerly preparing to the latest loosening of pandemic restrictions --- and they await the reaction from the public. Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday announced he was allowing more people to dine in starting Thursday, as long as they do not exceed 50 percent of seating capacity. Pat Fontaine, executive director of the Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said that most eateries that did not shut down altogether have been relying on curbside pickups and deliveries. Looking to the immediate future, Fontaine said, "Help is still an issue." Unemployment pay and additional money from the federal government must be considered, he said. Restaurants in the city limits of Jackson will have to wait till May 15 to expand the dine-in option because of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's decision. Meantime, the Mississippi Coast, which accounts for about one-third of the state's tourism revenue, will see restaurants take advantage of the latest order from Reeves. Gus Harris, owner of Cajun Crawfish in Long Beach, said Wednesday that "everybody is pretty excited." "This is high season for crawfish," Harris said.
Meridian restaurants prepare to reopen under new restrictions
After weeks of being restricted to curbside and delivery sales to prevent the spread of COVID-19, restaurant owners in Lauderdale County have been eager to reopen their dining rooms Thursday. The restaurants are permitted to open with a list of restrictions under an executive order by Gov. Tate Reeves. Customers will likely notice the changes, like masks on employees and extra spacing between tables. Weidmann's Restaurant, Mugshots Grill & Bar, Nick & Al's New York Style Pizzeria and The Rustler were among those preparing to reopen their seating areas Thursday, according to staff and social media posts. In preparation for the new restrictions, Weidmann's Restaurant has removed five tables from both the downstairs dining room and the upstairs bar and opened an additional dining room for more space, owner Charles Frazier said. Customers won't find any condiments on the table and will be provided disposable menus, Frazier said.
Hattiesburg restaurant dining rooms to remain closed for coronavirus
A day before Gov. Tate Reeves' order allowing restaurants to reopen their dining rooms with certain limitations, Hattiesburg's eateries will remain closed to diners, Mayor Toby Barker said. "I want restaurants open," he said in a news release. "The owners and establishments they have built are more than eateries. They are economic drivers. They are institutions in our community, and many of them have taken massive losses to investments and livelihoods since this pandemic began. That isn't lost on me, and quite frankly – it keeps me up at night. However, I can't ignore the surge we are seeing in our own community. Barker said the area's numbers are showing the city is not ready to throw its doors wide open.
Oxford aldermen vote to keep restaurant dining rooms closed, allow some outdoor recreation to resume
Despite Governor Tate Reeves allowing restaurant dining rooms to reopen across the state later this week, those inside the Oxford city limits will remain closed, for now. During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen voted to adhere to a stricter version of Reeves' latest executive order, keeping dining rooms closed. Municipalities are allowed to have orders, or resolutions, stricter than what the state has enacted, but they can not be any looser than the executive order. Executive Order 1478, which Reeves signed on Monday, allows for indoor and outdoor dining rooms to reopen on Thursday, but with strict guidelines to follow and social distancing protocols in place. When it came to the other portion of Reeves' latest executive order, the Board did vote to allow outdoor gatherings resume in certain instances. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, all basketball, baseball, soccer, softball and tennis courts and fields will be allowed to reopen for practice only at mTrade park and other city parks.
Lauderdale County cattle farmers face tough choices during COVID-19 crisis
As some grocery shoppers across the country face restrictions on the number of steaks or beef roasts they can purchase, farmers in East Mississippi on the opposite end of the supply chain are struggling to sell their cattle. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to uncertainty in the market and tough decisions about when farmers should move their animals. There's still a demand for cattle, but prices have tanked in the Southeast, said Andy Berry, executive director of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association. Production plants temporarily closed in the last two weeks after hundreds of workers became sick, the Associated Press reported. "That kind of slows the supply chain down between our calves here in Mississippi and the slaughterhouses," Berry said. "They're not pulling the cattle through to be processed. They're not taking cattle into the feed yards, which means that they're not taking cattle off of the grass here in Mississippi. It's just a bottleneck that we've got here all across our industry."
Miss. Ag. Commissioner launches plan to assist farmers, keep food supply strong during pandemic
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson discussed the steps being taken to strengthen Mississippi's food supply chain. "The country's food supply chain continues to function in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, labor issues in other states, coupled with shifting demands as restaurants and schools have closed, have strained the supply chain," said Commissioner Gipson. "In Mississippi, our food supply is abundant, plentiful and safe, thanks to our hardworking farmers. It is imperative that we take steps that will provide new market opportunities for our farmers, while simultaneously providing consumers with avenues to purchase direct from farmers. These steps are all part of keeping our food supply diverse and secure." Gipson says the problem is not with food becoming scarce, but oversupply because of people overbuying or hoarding. He says no processing plants in Mississippi have closed because of the virus. Gipson is signing an emergency rule to expand the custom slaughter exemption and increase the number of shares sold per animal. He says this allows smaller, custom plants to sell directly to a consumer. Any Mississippian will be able to purchase beef, poultry or pork directly from a local farmer. This rule will last 120 days.
New loans, grants now available to agribusiness
Agriculture producers and agribusinesses have a new avenue for financial assistance. U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, of Brookhaven, who serves on the Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture Committee, reached out to agribusinesses Tuesday to encourage those suffering losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to consider applying for assistance through the Small Business Administration. The SBA announced Monday that agricultural businesses are now eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loan program assistance, previously unavailable to these types of businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act appropriated new funding for EIDL, and directed the SBA to extend eligibility to farmers, ranchers, aquaculture and other agricultural businesses. "We made it a point to make low-interest, long-term SBA loans available to agricultural producers, whose ability to survive the pandemic is critical," Hyde-Smith said.
Reeves, legislative showdown: Federal funds always part of state budget
The 2019 Legislature appropriated $8.6 billion in federal funds to various agencies of state government. These were funds passed by the United States Congress, signed into law by the president and sent to Mississippi for various programs, ranging from money for Medicaid beneficiaries to funds for highway construction and maintenance to funds for pandemics like COVID-19. The total state budget, including those federal funds, is $19.23 billion. The reason that the Legislature appropriates the federal funds -- funds that already have been appropriated by Congress -- is that generally speaking the executive agencies would not have the authority to spend the funds without action of the Mississippi Legislature. An additional $1.25 billion in federal funds directed to Mississippi to help pay for the cost of fighting the deadly COVID-19 pandemic are at the heart of a heated debate between Gov. Tate Reeves and the Legislature.
Mississippi gov says pandemic no 'excuse' to release inmates
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that the state will not consider early release for prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic, even with inmates living in conditions that make social distancing difficult. "Unlike many other states, I do not believe we ought to use the excuse of a pandemic to change our sentencing structure in our criminal justice system," the Republican governor said in response to questions during a news conference. Mississippi has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States. An advocacy group for inmate safety, the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, issued an open letter to Reeves this week. It demanded that the state release all juveniles, elderly and medically fragile people from custody. It also demanded release of all inmates who have been granted parole and are awaiting release and all inmates with less than two years left to serve.
COVID-19 Growing Near State's Meat Processing Plants
The Mississippi State Health Department is investigating a growing number of COVID-19 cases in counties housing Mississippi's meat-processing facilities, although State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs says not enough evidence exists to explicitly tie the growing infections to the state's meat industry. "We're ramping up our investigations," Dobbs said at yesterday's daily COVID-19 press event. "Although we're seeing a large number of cases in the local areas of these plants, most of the cases that we're finding in these areas do not work for poultry processors. There's something that is happening in the communities. Whether or not there's a component of it coming from these industries is plausible, but there's clearly a lot more going on that we need to dig in on to try to make sure that those communities have what they need." Still, Gov. Tate Reeves and Dobbs both acknowledged the sharp rise in cases in both Scott and Leake counties, areas with large meatpacking facilities and large Hispanic populations, who are overrepresented in the spread of the virus among those communities, as The Clarion-Ledger first reported last week.
'It can make a world of difference': How Mississippians are getting tested for COVID-19
Health care workers at the Aaron E. Henry clinic set up three stations last Wednesday to prepare for drive-thru coronavirus testing: a station to screen for symptoms, a station for the nose swab test collection and a final station for patient education. Scenes like these have played out for weeks at brick-and-mortar clinics and pop-up locations across the state as the coronavirus continues to spread in Mississippi. Testing guidelines vary broadly across different Mississippi clinics and regions: Some tests are free, while others cost patients at least $400; some clinics require appointments and prior phone consultations, while others allow walk-up and drive-up options; some doctors require patients show COVID-like symptoms before administering a test, while others have no such standards.
Brett Favre repaying $1.1 M for no-show speeches, auditor says
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre is repaying $1.1 million in welfare money that he received for multiple speeches where he did not show up, the Mississippi state auditor said Wednesday. Auditor Shad White said his office received $500,000 from Favre on Wednesday, plus a commitment that Favre will repay the other $600,000 in installments over the next few months. Favre's effort to repay the money came two days after White released an audit of spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services that showed Favre had been paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader has been indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S., and the community education center had contracts with Human Services to spend money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, also known as TANF.
Evidence mounts that outside is safer when it comes to COVID-19
Health experts say people are significantly less likely to get the coronavirus while outside, a fact that could add momentum to calls to reopen beaches and parks closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being outside shouldn't be seen as completely safe, health experts say. People should continue to avoid crowds and maintain six feet of distance from others to keep away from the virus. But experts are increasingly confident in evidence showing that the coronavirus spreads much more readily indoors than outdoors, a finding that could help guide policymakers seeking to figure out ways to end lockdowns that have shuttered much of the nation's economy. "Parks, beaches -- as long as they're not cheek to jowl, cycling, walking, this is good," said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Enjoy nature. It's good for us, and it has very low risk of spreading the virus." Experts warned that people are not completely safe outdoors and that it is important to stay six feet away from people outside.
U. of Mississippi to hold live virtual event to honor Class of 2020
The Grove is usually full of graduates the second Saturday in May, but this year will be different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of Mississippi's traditional Commencement ceremony was postponed and a unique virtual event is taking its place. A live, virtual celebration of the Class of 2020 for graduates, family and friends will be held at noon on Saturday. The event will be livestreamed and feature remarks from Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce, Provost Noel Wilkin, Ole Miss graduates and other guests. Senior class president Cole Blue will address fellow graduates, and 2019 Homecoming King Carl Tart will lead the ceremonial turn of the tassel. Matt Lusco, president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, will provide remarks and share a special announcement, while Ole Miss Hall of Fame inductee Leah Davis will conclude the celebration by singing the University's alma mater.
UMMC nursing student reflects on final semester, prepares for future
Medical and nursing students are finishing up a semester that they had not bargained for, thanks to the coronavirus. "It really threw a wrench in a lot of things," said Brooke Allbritton, a nursing student in her final semester. Allbritton said the thing she missed the most during this semester was clinicals – a chance at real world experience. "That's what we all look forward to the most as seniors." Allbritton said. "We're so excited to get into the hospital on the floor that we think we might wanna work on." UMMC has to limit the amount of people filing in and out of the building, meaning student clinicals were not an option. Despite not having clinicals, Allbritton said she still feels prepared to jump into working in the pediatric E.R. starting in late June.
College grads prepare for virtual ceremonies during coronavirus pandemic
Laquisha Davis is first in her family to graduate from college. "Whew, I'm not even trying to cry right now. My family was known for the ones that always have kids. 'Oh, they are not going to school. None of their kids are going to make it," said Davis. Davis says she's disappointed her friends and loved ones won't see her graduate. Some were planning to travel from as far as Chicago just to see her walk across the stage. "I'm the first of my family to actually finish something without giving up. There were times I wanted to give up but I didn't because I had those people to keep encouraging me. It hurts," said Davis. Davis is receiving a bachelor's degree in professional studies with a minor in family studies and psychology from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus. The Yazoo City native says she wants to become a counselor one day. Graduating with a 3.0 average, Davis says this win wasn't only for her but her entire family as well. "I broke that chain because I don't feel like no one should ever go through someone telling you that you can't," said Davis.
LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins suggests East Mississippi Community College sell Lion Hills
A Lowndes County member of the East Mississippi Community College's Board of Trustees said he would have raised the idea of selling Lion Hills Center and Golf Course in an executive session of the board's meeting Monday night, had the board not voted down his motion to enter closed determination for the second month in a row. LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins, emphasizing he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the board, told The Dispatch Tuesday he felt it was in the college's financial interest to at least discuss the possibility of selling the Military Road country club. Lion Hills, which currently houses the college's culinary arts, hotel restaurant management, golf and recreational turf management and landscape management programs, has lost the college a total of just more than $8 million, including acquisition costs, since purchasing the property in 2012, according to an operational analysis EMCC Chief Financial Officer Tammie Holmes presented to the board Monday. Higgins told The Dispatch Lion Hills has been "a money pit since Day 1."
Delta State School of Nursing's online RN to BSN program ranks among the best
Delta State University's Robert E. Smith School of Nursing ranks third for best online RN to BSN Programs in Mississippi in 2020, according to This marks the third consecutive year that Delta State's School of Nursing measures high on the statewide list. "We are honored that the RN-BSN program has been recognized again by this organization," said Dr. Vicki Bingham, dean of Delta State's School of Nursing. "The faculty of this program work diligently to ensure these registered nurses are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the current healthcare workforce."
Mississippi to receive millions in education CARES Act funds
The coronavirus pandemic has closed school buildings and forced educators to rethink how to deliver instruction. But a windfall of federal funds designated for Mississippi's K-12 and higher education institutions may change the way schools offer classes and other resources. On March 27 President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide much needed financial assistance to states affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It contains $2 trillion in aid, and $30.75 billion of that is designated to states for education. The Education Stabilization Fund is split into categories: The Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. A separate pot of money is designated for states with the highest coronavirus burden and for the Bureau of Indian Education.
Auburn University receives $7.8 million for emergency student aid
Auburn University has received $7.8 million in emergency student-aid funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, according to an email from Student Financial Services. This funding from the CARES Act is intended to help mitigate the additional expenses that students may have incurred due to the suspension of on-campus activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Students who meet eligibility requirements and who have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 may apply for this program," the email stated. The $7.8 million in funding being given to students is half of the $15.6 million that the University received from the CARES Act. According to Kelli Shomaker, the University's vice president for business and finance and CFO, the other half of the grant will be used to offset some of the expenses the University incurred as a result of the coronavirus.
No final decision yet on LSU leadership structure; firm presents board with five options
No final decision was made on the future structure of the LSU presidency Wednesday afternoon, when the LSU Board of Supervisors received the preliminary report from an independent consulting firm that studied the options of possibly amending the roles of the system's top position. Currently, Interim LSU President Tom Galligan oversees the system's eight campuses, and, since former President F. King Alexander left for Oregon State in December, there has been widespread discussion whether the leadership structure should change. Gov. John Bel Edwards, who appointed 11 of the 15 members on the board, has supported splitting the presidency into two positions: a chancellor to oversee the Baton Rouge campus, and a president to oversee the statewide system. Multiple supervisors voiced opposition against such a split during Wednesday's special meeting, wanting to instead preserve or further support LSU's president with a larger staff.
How Tennessee universities will give emergency CARES Act money to students
Universities in Tennessee have begun distributing federal aid money to students in need. Their goal is to get emergency help to the neediest students as quickly as possible. This money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal response bill that includes benefits for individuals, businesses and governments. The CARES Act is issuing over $14 billion to higher education institutions because of the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is receiving the largest amount at $19.2 million. Of that, $9.6 million is required to go directly to students as emergency aid funding. The majority of that money will be distributed as grants to students. Approximately 9,000 students at UT Knoxville are eligible for the aid, which UT has already begun distributing. That money will be distributed to students who have the highest financial need based on their FAFSA information, the university said in a statement. UT is waiting for further guidance from the Department of Education to decide how to use the remaining $9.6 million.
Texas A&M researchers vaccinate 50-plus in COVID-19 clinical trial
Texas A&M University researchers vaccinated more than 50 health care workers on Wednesday as they started a clinical trial for a vaccine they believe can mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The BCG vaccinations administered at the Bryan Medical Center were the first ones in the US clinical trial, but they were just a handful of the billion times that the common tuberculosis vaccine has been used around the world since it was developed in the 1920s. Lead researcher in the US Jeffrey Cirillo said BCG -- which is also used to treat bladder cancer -- could potentially be available to treat COVID-19 in six months since it has FDA approval and does not need to go through the first three phases of a clinical trial, as new vaccines do. The regent's professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center said other vaccines currently being developed could take years to get through the first three phases of clinical trials.
New campus sexual assault rules bolster rights of accused
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday issued a new policy that will reshape the way schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual misconduct, bolstering the rights of the accused and narrowing the scope of cases colleges are required to investigate. "We released a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence and due process," DeVos said in a call with reporters. In announcing the new policy, which carries the weight of law, DeVos condemned the Obama administration for adopting a "failed approach" that turned campus disciplinary panels into "kangaroo courts."The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, an association of more than 200 public universities, said it still has significant concerns about cross examinations, saying the requirement will likely discourage reporting. “Some will worry about an anguish-inducing process that includes requiring them to face direct questioning by respondents’ aggressive counsel in a live hearing courtroom-like setting,” said Peter McPherson, the group’s president.
Education Department releases final Title IX regulations
The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday released its long-awaited final regulations governing campus sexual assault under Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. It took nearly a year and a half for the department's Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to review more than 124,000 public comments on the issue and finalize the proposed regulations, which were published in November 2018. The regulations will be the first Title IX guidance published by OCR to go through a formal notice-and-comment process since 1997, and unlike guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011 and 2014, they will have the force of law behind them. Colleges and universities will be required to comply with the regulations by Aug. 14. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, said in a press release that the final rule ensures long-awaited due process protections that have been denied to students accused of misconduct for more than a decade. Robert Shibley, executive director of FIRE, called the regulations "an important victory."
What Colleges Need to Know About the New Title IX Rules
The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday announced sweeping changes in how colleges must handle sexual-assault and sexual-harassment complaints, bolstering protections for accused students and employees. The long-awaited changes in the enforcement of Title IX, the federal gender-equity law, will require colleges to hold live hearings and allow cross-examination when adjudicating sexual-misconduct complaints. The new regulations also will narrow the scope of complaints that colleges are required to investigate. In other words, according to the federal government, Title IX covers only sexual harassment that meets its new definition: "unwelcome conduct" that is "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education." The changes will take effect on August 14. The final rules were released at a chaotic time. The American Council on Education in March asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to delay the regulations until the Covid-19 pandemic had passed. Eighteen states' attorneys general and several survivor-advocacy groups echoed that call.
Hospitality workers take big employment hit, survey finds, and most workers prefer nondegree training
New survey data show that nearly three in four leisure and hospitality workers have lost jobs, income or hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Over all, more than 50 percent of Americans report the same. For weeks, Strada Education Network has kept up a survey asking Americans how they've been impacted by the pandemic. In early April, the survey demonstrated just how deeply the pandemic was affecting the country, showing spiking numbers of respondents losing jobs, hours or income. On Wednesday, Strada researchers and experts summarized week six results, which expanded on previous results and examined job loss and education plans by industry in which workers are employed. Over half of information technology workers are worried about losing their jobs, income or hours during the pandemic, and two-thirds of education workers say the pandemic will affect them personally for at least six months, the survey showed. The data on IT workers were surprising, said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Analysis: Breaking down Mississippi State's linebacker corps heading into the summer
With spring commencement at Mississippi State now officially passed, summer has arrived in Starkville. And while the MSU football team has yet to endure its usual regimen of spring practices due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a growing optimism a 2020 football season will be played -- though when that would happen and the logistics behind such an occurrence remain unknown. Over the next week-plus, we're going to dive into the Bulldogs' depth chart heading into the summer and what it might look like once competition is allowed to begin. With that said, let's keep things going with the MSU linebackers. With an improved strength program run by Washington State import Tyson Brown combined with new defensive coordinator Zach Arnett's 3-3-5 base formation, the MSU linebacking corps stands to be as versatile as it has been in decades. It's just a matter of giving the youthful unit game reps.
From empty stadiums to scheduling changes, Southern Miss AD discusses COVID-19's impact
Like so many other operations limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, employees of the Southern Miss Athletic Department are rarely seen inside the halls of the Duff Athletic Center at the moment. USM athletic director Jeremy McClain's days are now filled with staring at a computer screen as he conducts video conference meetings from his home office. "I've lost count as to how many I've had during the last week," McClain told the Sun Herald last week in a phone interview. "You just adapt and figure out how to communicate. I've got regular Zoom meetings and we've used every other medium you can imagine to communicate. It's not the quite the same, but we've made it work." McClain, who said last week that no student-athletes have tested positive for the new coronavirus, hopes the Golden Eagles won't be playing games in empty stadiums in 2020. "It is kind of tricky, but I think that will be done only as a last resort," he said. In the meantime, McClain and USM officials are talking about ways to tighten the budget. "There's going to be a dip in revenue. It's just the nature of the situation," he said.
13 of 14 SEC schools expect to be open in fall
All but one of the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference have indicated they plan to reopen their campuses for the fall semester, a step widely believed to be needed to resume football and other sports. South Carolina and Tennessee on Wednesday became the latest schools in the nation's top football conference to announce their plans, joining Alabama, LSU and others. Vanderbilt hasn't announced its plans for the fall. Every other school has been more vocal in their intentions to reopen their buildings while students and faculty participate for now in remote learning through the summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Reopening campuses is seen as a mandatory step before sports can resume. The commissioners of the nation's major college football leagues have stressed that college sports cannot return from the shutdown until campuses have reopened. Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer, has also said widespread testing for the coronavirus will be crucial to having college sports in the fall, especially contact sports such as football and basketball.
How many fans at South Carolina football games this fall? Ray Tanner offers an estimate
South Carolina's football games, should they happen, will look dramatically different in the fall. Gamecocks Athletics Director Ray Tanner spoke on radio Thursday to Teddy Heffner and said it's a given that the crowds for football will be smaller because of the coronavirus pandemic. The number thrown to him by Heffner was potentially 30,000 in Williams-Brice Stadium with its capacity of more than 80,000. And Tanner said that's ambitious. "I'll just tell you, Teddy, I don't see the possibility of 30,000," Tanner said. "That number is way high. When you talk about social distancing and the way you would have to deal with ingress and egress just off the top of my head, I've got people studying that right now trying to figure out exactly what the number will be. It's probably between, I'll just throw this out because I don't have the facts (on hand) but it is probably half of what you said." If the final figure is 15,000 fans, that would put Williams-Brice at about 18.7% capacity. Experts told The State that social distancing might require stadiums to allow in between 15% and 35% of capacity depending on how seating is done.
What could social distancing look like in Sanford Stadium? UGA weighing options
Georgia officials are in the planning stages for what they hope will be a football season to start in September that would allow for a limited number of fans in Sanford Stadium. "We're running models on various social distancing mandates," athletic director Greg McGarity said Wednesday. "It depends on what phase we're in. I don't think it's ever going to be business as usual because there's going to be new standards in play as far as hygiene, the way we look at concessions, the way we look at seating." McGarity said Georgia has worked on those details the last month during a time where society has grown accustomed to staying at least six feet apart from others to reduce the spread of the novel cornonavirus. "We're reviewing all that right now as far as gates, as far as seats available, how we would manage that," McGarity said. As states are reopening, Georgia's first scheduled game is still more than 17 weeks away. Nobody can be sure a season will start on time or be played without disruption.
Will Stout, LSU football's hype video mastermind, announces he's leaving the school
Will Stout, whose hype videos last season about LSU football attracted millions of viewers and became must-watch material for fans, announced Wednesday that he's leaving LSU for the University of Southern California. Stout will be the assistant director of football video production at USC, the school announced. Jacob Brown, who teamed with Stout on videos, is also headed to Southern Cal and will be director of football video production. "I told myself many many years ago, as far back as I can remember, that I would end up in Los Angeles one day," Stout said in a note published on Twitter. "It's always been my dream, and it's something that I've always looked forward to and worked for." His videos were narrated by celebrities like actor and pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, country music artist Tim McGraw, actor Anthony Mackie, actor John Goodman and former LSU football players Glenn Dorsey, Bert Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, Ryan Clark and Marcus Spears.
Clemson's Dabo Swinney rebukes critics: 'They want me to just shut that off and not be a Christian'
Coach Dabo Swinney on Wednesday night pushed back against critics who question the role Christianity plays in the Clemson program. In April 2014 the Freedom from Religion filed a complaint to Clemson, claiming Swinney and his staff had engaged in "unconstitutional behavior" for not creating a clear separation between church and state at the public university. "I always tell everybody, my job is not to save 'em. My job is to win football games," Swinney said during an FCA video call Wednesday. "I've come under fire many times from different organizations and things like that because of my faith. They want me to just shut that off and not be a Christian. But God says in Ecclesiastes 3:23, whatever you do, you do it with all your heart as if you're working for the Lord." On Wednesday, Swinney pushed back on "myths" about him, like that he requires players to attend church on a mandatory basis. But he did insist he feels responsible to serve the "hearts and souls" of his players.

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