Friday, August 28, 2020   
Manual helps poultry producers with hurricane prep, recovery
Poultry producers across the Southeast now have new guidelines for hurricane preparedness and recovery. Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is the lead author of the recently released "Poultry Producers Guide to Hurricane Preparation and Recovery." The online manual is published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southeast Climate Hub. The guide provides short- and long-term recommendations for preparing for and recovering from hurricanes and floods. It also includes information on farm assessment and bird management after a hurricane. In addition to the main guide covering the Southeast region, there are also eight individual state guides that share general information but link to respective state agencies. "In addition to preparing for and recovering from a hurricane, I wanted this manual to have a range of plans poultry producers can consider putting in place to increase their resilience to hurricanes," Tabler said.
Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson Announces MDAC's New Wild Hog Control Program
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson announced a new Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce program, the Wild Hog Control Program. Commissioner Gipson was joined by Mississippi House of Representatives Agriculture Chairman Bill Pigott, Mississippi State Senate Agriculture Chairman Charles Younger, and Mike McCormick, President of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. "We are excited to launch the first-of-its-kind state agriculture department-led invasive feral hog trapping initiative," said Commissioner Gipson. During the 2020 Legislative Session, MDAC was authorized to operate programs to fight nuisance wildlife species on private agricultural and forestry lands. MDAC will continue to work with state and federal partners such as the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks; USDA APHIS Wildlife Services; and Mississippi State University.
Two MSU Greek houses see outbreaks, in isolation
Within a week of the return of Mississippi State University students to campus, two MSU Greek houses have been required to quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreaks in their chapters. According to MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter, the Mississippi State Department of Health defines an outbreak as three cases or more. At that point, members of the organization are required to quarantine for 14 days, either at their permanent residence or in an MSU quarantine facility. Jacqueline Mullen, the director of student activities and fraternity/sorority life for MSU, said she did not know any specifics of how outbreaks occurred within these two organizations. Mullen said she has been overall impressed with how the MSU Greek organizations have been handling themselves throughout the pandemic. "I'll be honest, I've been very, very pleased with our chapters, and I wouldn't say it if I didn't see it on the frontlines," Mullen said. Salter said he believes students are doing well with masking and social distancing on campus, but he is concerned about what goes on off-campus.
Laura Largely Misses U.S. Cotton, Sugar Fields; Rains to Skip Dry Midwest Grain Belt
The U.S. agricultural sector was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Laura on Thursday as the storm veered west of grain export terminals in New Orleans and missed many fields of unharvested cotton and sugar, according to meteorologists and industry sources. The storm's rains, however, are also projected to miss many of the driest areas of the U.S. Midwest corn and soybean belt that need them, including key producers Iowa and Nebraska, they said. Government and agriculture officials are assessing any damage. The Louisiana Farm Bureau said some sugarcane was blown over but production would be only minimally impacted as cane tops were not broken. Most rice fields had also been harvested ahead of the storm, Communications Director Avery Davidson said. "Our concern now is what the storm is going to do in the northern part of the state. There are lots of poultry houses around Natchitoches and Ruston ... and we don't know what power outages are going to do to the farmers' ability to cool and water their birds," Davidson said. The rains could also slow the harvest over the next two weeks in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Marty Stuart's Congress of Country Music coming to Philadelphia
Now that Marty Stuart has solidified himself in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the country music legend has already set his sights on his next goal -- a $30 million project in his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Stuart, who was recently honored as a member of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2020 alongside Hank Williams, Jr. and Dean Dillon, has chosen Philadelphia to be the home of his Congress of Country Music. "When you drive across the state line, [the sign] says 'Birthplace of America's Music,' and I'm so proud of that," Stuart said. "The Congress of Country Music will be a cultural center, performance center, museum space, and educational facility for country music. I call it my 'Hillbilly Presidential Library,' so that's kind of what it is." In phase one of the three-phase project, the historic Ellis Theatre, which sits in the middle of Philadelphia's downtown area, will be renovated and turned into a 500-seat venue for concerts and other events. "This has been Marty's vision for several years," Representative Scott Bounds of Philadelphia said. "It will be a place that we cannot only host and have community events, but also with Marty's extensive networking of country music performers, we can bring them to Philadelphia."
BancorpSouth Arena continues expansion project in midst of pandemic
Despite the entertainment industry largely coming to a halt because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, work on the $15 million renovation and expansion project to the BancorpSouth Arena in downtown Tupelo is continuing to move forward. Arena officials told the Daily Journal that renovations to the current conference center space, which typically hosts numerous events throughout the year, were completed earlier this month, but employees are still working to expand and construct additional space to the newly renovated facility. The arena is currently without a permanent executive director while in the middle of a massive expansion project. Former director Todd Hunt retired at the end of June, having served in that role since 2007. Kevan Kirkpatrick, the director of marketing for the arena, is serving as the interim director until a new executive director can be hired. Kirkpatrick also said that he couldn't fully anticipate when artists and performers would begin booking large events again, but when it does happen, he wants to make sure that Tupelo is ready to host them safely and continue to build the arena's reputation as an entertainment venue.
Experts say Mississippi could see second wave of the coronavirus
Mississippi's daily new coronavirus cases have decreased over several weeks, and statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased by almost one third since late July. But health officials say the overall numbers are still too high. Dr. LouAnn Woodward is Vice-Chancellor of Health Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She says the hospital is still operating at maximum capacity. "Whether or not we're in a pandemic, people are having wrecks, people are having heart attacks and strokes and other things," says Dr. Woodward. "So we're actually still full, right now, but our number of COVID-19 patients has declined." Experts are also concerned about a possible resurgence in new coronavirus cases in the fall. Dr. Mark Horne, President of the Mississippi State Medical Association, says with students returning to classrooms and the return fall weather, there will likely be a second wave of the virus. Dr. Woodward says she's hopeful that a vaccine could be ready for public use early next year.
Mississippi still tops nation's new COVID-19 infection rate despite improving statistics
Mississippi this week took over the nation's highest infection rate after hovering in the top several states for weeks. Almost all of Mississippi's daily COVID-19 metrics have improved over recent weeks -- but so have other hot-spot states that drove summer surges. Hospitalizations in particular have seen major improvements over the past weeks, seeing the first steep decline since the pandemic began and hitting their lowest point this week since early July. Dr. Alan Jones, who oversees University of Mississippi Medical Center's COVID-19 response, says the lull is welcome, but it's not enough yet and warns Mississippians and policy makers alike to maintain the progress made. "What the medical community is holding its breath about is, we are seeing a reprieve, but we have schools re-opening, colleges going back, we have football games starting to take place, we have more travel, people going back to work, Labor Day is coming up," said Jones, assistant vice chancellor for clinical affairs. "We are all kind of holding our breath. A good two to six weeks after (re-openings), we believe we'll see those numbers go back up in the wrong direction."
Senator Lydia Chassaniol elected Chairwoman of Legislative PEER Committee
District 14 Mississippi Senator Lydia Graves Chassaniol, (R), of Winona, was elected in August 2020 Chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, (PEER). Chassaniol was first appointed to PEER in 2016 by former Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves then was reappointed to a second term by Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann. She will preside over the body throughout 2020. The nonpartisan PEER committee is composed of seven senators appointed by the Lt. Governor and seven representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House. Among the duties of PEER to the Legislature is to provide program evaluations, background and special investigations and to conduct economy and efficiency reviews.
Lawsuit: Mississippi voting laws cause risk during pandemic
Mississippi election laws could force people to choose between their health and their constitutional right to cast a ballot, according to a lawsuit that voting-rights groups filed Thursday to challenge the state's restrictions on absentee voting. Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Jackson on behalf of three Mississippi residents, the League of Women Voters of Mississippi and the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP. "Given the persistent and grave public health concerns, many Mississippi voters will be reluctant or unable to cast a ballot in person as long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, including during the November election," the lawsuit says. It says that the defendants -- Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson and Attorney General Lynn Fitch -- "have failed to take necessary steps to protect Mississippi voters' fundamental right to vote despite the public health risks of voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Painful echoes: How Emmett Till's death paved the way for Black Lives Matter 65 years later
Three months have passed since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a former police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Since video of the incident was widely circulated on social media, protesters have taken to the streets, demanding not only justice for Floyd, but change from both local and national government agencies to address racial inequality that has repeatedly come to the forefront. Images and videos from marches and rallies that continue across the country have drawn parallels to the days following another high-profile death: Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was killed in the Mississippi Delta in 1955. Aug. 28 marks the 65th anniversary of Till's killing, which took place near Money, Mississippi. The brutality of Till's killing, displayed to the world through a collection of images from his open-casket funeral service in Chicago, sparked a wave of outrage and galvanized what would eventually become the civil rights movement and leave its mark on American history. Today, the events that came after Till's killing serve as a blueprint for a new movement that has stretched across the nation and beyond, inspiring a new generation to take action.
RNC 2020: President Trump Promises to Heal Nation, Attacks Joe Biden on Jobs, Crime
President Trump accepted his party's presidential nomination Thursday, asking Americans to look past months of hardship wrought by compounding crises across the country and vowing to use a second term to mend public health, revive the economy and restore law and order to "Democrat-run cities throughout America." Standing in front of 1,500 people in front of the White House on Thursday, Mr. Trump framed the final weeks of the presidential race as a choice between the extreme policies offered by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the "righteous heart of the American people." He warned that Mr. Biden would unwind his trade policies, dismantle sections of wall being built along the southern border and serve as a "Trojan horse for socialism." Mr. Trump's speech capped two weeks of unusual political conventions, as each party adjusted a yearslong planning process due to social distancing limitations caused by the pandemic.
Trump family 'all hands on deck' in final stretch of presidential election campaign
President Donald Trump will lean on his family to make the case for him in the final stretch of the election. With mail-in voting beginning in key states next month, the president and members of his family will pick up the pace of their events following the Republican National Convention, sources familiar with the plans told McClatchy, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Beginning next month, Donald Trump, Jr., the president's eldest son and an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, will be on the road three to four times a week. Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter, will campaign at least once a week, in addition to her official duties as a senior White House adviser. "We are fully in campaign season and in campaign mode now, although it is a bit of a different year," Lara Trump, who is married to the president's middle son Eric, said in an interview. "I'll be out there. My husband will be out there, so it's going to be all hands on deck."
UM Internship Experience Program teaches students how to work remotely
The University of Mississippi Internship Experience Program is offering an eight-week course for the fall semester. The course is for students of any major who are wanting to learn skills that employers are looking for after graduation. "The UM Internship Experience is a cohort program that supports University of Mississippi students wanting to intern in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C.," said Dr. Kristina Phillips, the associate director of college programs. "In response to COVID-19, we're considering permanently expanding the program to include remote internships. The benefits of UM students participating in the Internship Experience program include personalized internship search support, access to scholarships towards internship expenses, pre-arranged housing in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C., and networking opportunities with Ole Miss alumni in these cities."
USM Mask Distribution, JSU/UVM Online Lead Course and Tougaloo #VoteHBCU Competition
The University of Southern Mississippi recently partnered with the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation and the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention on an effort to distribute thousands of free protective face masks to residents of the Mississippi Delta in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. MNCCP director and FLHCF founder and president Freddie White-Johnson organized the project, which aims to provide Delta residents with five-packs of reusable face masks. MNCCP and FLHCF teams traveled to Quitman County in August and distributed more than 2,250 masks to residents of Marks, Miss. The organizations also distributed 6,000 face masks in Leflore, Sunflower, Humphreys, Bolivar, Montgomery and Carroll counties and plan to visit Washington, Yazoo, Coahoma, Holmes and Tallahatchie counties in September, a release from USM says.
Jackson State University's Day of Giving aims to raise $400,000
Jackson State University aims to raise $400,000 on Thursday during its 6th Annual Day of Giving campaign to support scholarships, athletics and the Sonic Boom of the South. This year, the university will incorporate a Facebook Live presentation called "THEE Show" at 7:00 p.m. on JSU's official Facebook page. "THEE Show" will be hosted by Michelle Boyd, aka Chelle B of WJMI, and Sonny THEE Tiger. Boyd is also the marketing associate for University Communications at JSU. Specifically, Day of Giving will support: $200,000 for scholarships, $100,000 for athletics and $100,000 for the Sonic Boom of the South.
William Carey University bestows honorary degree to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker
U.S. Sen Roger Wicker has had many distinctions throughout political career, including serving as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; being acknowledged as the second-highest ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and serving on the Environment and Public Works Committee. On Aug. 27, William Carey University officials added to that list during a ceremony at the campus's Bass Memorial Chapel, where the senator was awarded an honorary degree by several members of the university, including president Tommy King, executive vice president Ben Burnett and Garry Breland, academic vice president and provost. "It's a very high honor, and I'm entirely humbled and so flattered to be in such excellent company," Wicker said. "I'm totally puzzled, but very grateful. We've had relatives in the administration here ... so we've had a great relationship for years -- decades -- with this great vessel of higher education. So it's wonderful to be back among friends."
A Confusing Back-To-School Season May Lead To Blockbuster Spending
If lots of families end up having to stock up for multiple scenarios -- both learning in school and virtually -- back-to-school and back-to-college spending could actually hit a new record, topping $100 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Big-ticket items like electronics and desks are a major reason, says Katherine Cullen, senior director for industry and consumer insights at the retail group. "Families who last year might have been looking at calculators or maybe a new smartphone ... are now looking at bigger dollar items like laptops, tablets, desktops," Cullen says. "But they're also buying things that you might not expect as much -- desks, lamps, headphones -- a lot of new items that weren't traditionally on the school shopping list." Back-to-school is usually the second-biggest shopping season after the winter holidays. And so it's something of a test for retailers, who are in a tailspin from the year's mass shutdowns, layoffs and furloughs. Retail marketers have been getting creative to keep people spending, embracing the oddity and disarray of pandemic schooling, pushing discounts on computers and ideas for faking a dorm room at home.
Auburn sees 4 percent positivity rating for reentry testing
Auburn University's reentry testing through GuideSafe saw an overall positivity rate of 4%, according to an email sent to students and employees. The University released final numbers from the weeks of testing on Thursday. There were 859 positive results out of the 21,315 students tested. According to the University's email, the "vast majority" of the students who tested positive were either asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms. "These numbers show we had a low positivity rate among students as they returned to campus," said Dr. Fred Kam, Auburn University Medical Clinic director. "Through continued mitigation efforts and everyone's help in being proactive we aim to keep these numbers low." In the week since these tests were administered, an additional 203 Auburn students have tested positive. Those 203 positives came out of 901 tests administered, which equates to a 24% positivity rate. As of now, there have not been any reported hospitalizations of Auburn students since the start of the semester.
Auburn police get power to suspend alcohol sales in bars
Auburn police can stop bars from selling alcohol if they do not comply with the state's social distancing mandates, as of 5 p.m. Friday, the city declared Thursday. The city also moved to suspend walk-up bar services. The Auburn City Council approved a State of Local Emergency to allow city police to issue a $500 citation and suspend alcohol sales at any city bar that is too crowded to accommodate social distancing, or has customers who won't do so. "This is something we have already been enforcing," Auburn Police Chief Cedric Anderson told the council. "...We're focused on keeping people six feet apart. I think most people understand what they should be doing, but it's just going to take us being down there to remind them." State Alcohol Beverage Control investigators have been working with his officers and are expected to spot-check bars over the weekend, Anderson said. The order is in effect until Sept. 16. City officials will evaluate local health conditions, both in the city and on the Auburn University campus, before deciding whether to extend the order.
South Carolina President Robert Caslen warns of unsustainable COVID spread on campus as cases double
University of South Carolina President Robert Caslen is warning the spread of coronavirus on campus is becoming "unsustainable" after the number of cases doubled, he said Thursday. Between the first day of classes, Aug. 20, and Aug. 25, there had been 189 cases of coronavirus -- all but one of those being students. But on Wednesday an additional 191 people tested positive, Caslen said at a Thursday board of trustees meeting. "Am I concerned? Yes, I am, " Caslen said. "Is it acceptable? No. It's not. I don't know if you can sustain 191 positives." USC has also quarantined an additional three sorority houses, bringing the total number of sorority houses on campus quarantined to five, Caslen said. "Frankly, were watching Greek Life very closely," Caslen said. Though USC is conducting many of its classes in-person, the problem is off-campus social gatherings, Caslen said. Caslen warned students they would face suspension if they violate quarantine or are caught hosting house parties.
U. of South Carolina develops closing plans after COVID-19 cases double: 'Will pull the plug if I have to'
University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen has asked his staff to consider closing the state's largest college after COVID-19 cases doubled in a day. Caslen stressed during a town hall meeting Thursday that he is not ready to shut down the campus after starting the semester with a combination of in-person and online classes, and a USC epidemiologist said the school's case totals were within what was forecast. But a shock came Thursday when USC reported 191 new coronavirus cases in a single day, bringing the total to 380 during the first week of classes. Almost all of those infected are students. "We cannot sustain (191) new cases a day," Caslen told faculty and staff. "I've asked (Chief of Staff) Mark Bieger and the staff to develop shutdown options. And I certainly will pull the plug if I have to." Caslen said many of the positive cases are coming out of the 20 fraternity and sorority houses in the Greek Village.
5 U. of Tennessee fraternities, 1 sorority have been placed on interim suspension for breaking COVID-19 rules
Five fraternities and one sorority have been placed on interim suspension and will be investigated by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for breaking COVID-19 guidelines. The following organizations have been placed on interim suspension: Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Delta Tau Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha and Chi Omega. On Wednesday, Chancellor Donde Plowman and Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas said the university had received "reports that they held or organized gatherings in a manner that endangered the health, safety or welfare of others." As vice chancellor, Cuevas can impose interim actions before the student conduct process is complete, UT spokesperson Tyra Haag said. Those actions, in this case an interim suspension with gathering restrictions, will remain in place until the conduct process is complete and sanctions are in place, Haag said.
Campus employees ask Tennessee colleges to go online, provide hazard pay
United Campus Workers, the union for Tennessee college and university employees, is asking for those campuses to move to online classes and provide hazard pay for frontline employees. UCW is also asking for the state government to use rainy day funds to help cover any budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic, members of the group said during a press conference on Thursday. If budget cuts are necessary, UCW is also asking universities to protect employees making less than $50,000 a year from pay cuts. Instead, the group wants the highest-paid administrators to take voluntary pay cuts. Tom Anderson, a facilities services employee at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said he has concerns about what students are doing outside of the classroom. "I know how hard they've worked to try to keep the classrooms safe," Anderson said. "But you can't control the other 18, 19 hours in the day."
Texas A&M bans use of chalk as form of messaging on campus
Texas A&M University has prohibited chalking as a form of messaging on campus surfaces. Since the change to the school's sign policy was made Wednesday afternoon, many students have taken to social media to express their dislike of the new regulation. The school previously defined chalking as using a substance that is washable by rain or water to write or draw on surfaces including sidewalks. The update forbids any type of chalking, regardless of the substance used or "message content or viewpoint." The update, according to a release on Texas A&M Today, is prompted in part by advances in social media and other technology. The update comes at a time when several chalk messages were displayed around campus sidewalks against Lawrence Sullivan Ross, the former A&M president, Texas governor and Confederate general who has a statue in his image standing on campus. Many recent notes said "Sul Ross White Supremacist" and similar sentiments.
U. of Missouri cancels Homecoming parade, Family Weekend
Two popular events that draw thousands to the University of Missouri and a venue for entertaining high-profile visitors and donors are the latest COVID-19 casualties at the school. The university is canceling Family Weekend scheduled for late September and the Homecoming Parade. Along with those decisions, it is closing the University Club & Catering, housed in the Reynolds Alumni Center. "I have been here 25 years on our staff and that was one of the hardest emails I had to write and send out," Todd McCubbin, executive director of the Alumni Association, said of the decision to cancel the parade. The cancellation of Family Weekend, scheduled for Sept. 25 to 27, was announced in an email message to community leaders in Boone County from UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi. Choi wrote that he wanted to give advance notice because it will lead to a loss of business, especially at hotels. The university hopes to reschedule the family weekend for the spring, Bill Stackman, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said in a news release.
Land-Grant HBCUs Celebrating the 130th Anniversary of the 1890 Morrill Act
As the COVID-19 virus spread across the country this spring and more data became available that revealed the disproportionate impact it was having on Black communities, Tennessee State University launched the nation's first COVID-19 Academy to support residents in its Nashville community. The academy uses a holistic approach to help community members access healthcare, basic human services like food and job training, and education resources to help meet the needs of families who might be impacted -- financially and otherwise --- for a long time to come. Dr. Eugene Anderson, vice president of external diversity, equity and inclusion for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said in addition to HBCUs being educational hubs, these institutions are still playing a central part in the critical role of addressing societal problems. APLU and its HBCU member institutions are preparing to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the passing of the second Morrill Act, which provided the land to establish institutions for African Americans during Reconstruction. On Monday, APLU is hosting a webinar to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the second Morrill Act.
Colleges pressed to provide information on decision triggers for scaling back campus operations
As colleges bring students back to campuses for the fall semester, questions are increasingly being raised about what it would take to send them home or revert to online instruction in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19. New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo drew a red line for New York State colleges on Thursday, announcing, "If colleges have 100 cases or if the number of cases equal 5 percent of their population or more, they must go to remote learning for two weeks, at which time we will reassess the situation." In other states without such guidance, faculty and students are increasingly calling on colleges to release information on the criteria they're using to decide whether and when a shift from in-person to remote operations is necessary. Relatively few colleges have published specific numerical benchmarks they're using to determine when a surge in COVID-19 cases might trigger a closure, although an increasing number are posting general information about the criteria they are considering. Common criteria include metrics related to COVID case numbers and positive test rates, local hospital admission rates, and occupancy rates of rooms set aside for quarantine and isolation.
Small businesses in college towns struggle without students
Perry Porikos sat in the street outside one of his five businesses, in a makeshift patio area that didn't exist before the COVID-19 pandemic sent his best customers -- University of Michigan students -- back home in mid-March. The Greek immigrant arrived here more than four decades ago as a 20-year-old soccer player for the Wolverines and part-time dishwasher at The Brown Jug Restaurant, which he now owns. He nonchalantly dropped names of sports stars like Tom Brady and Michael Phelps, two of the many former Michigan students he counts as friends, and recalled hustling enough to own more than 10 businesses at one time. "Living the dream that people talk about, especially if you live in Europe and you come here," Porikos said, "I am the dream." Lately, though, it has been difficult for Porikos to rest easy. And he's not alone. Both the stress and the stakes are high for all the small business owners near Michigan's campus on and around South University Avenue, which winds through the city of about 120,000 residents -- about one-third of them students.
'It's Spring Break in Ann Arbor'
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is clinging to the dream of an in-person fall semester, even as many of its peers step back in the face of a global pandemic. But many Ann Arbor residents see the opening of campus as a nightmare scenario. They have inundated city-council members with calls, urging the council to stop the spread of coronavirus amid a student influx. Local parents worry that the university's reopening will hurt the prospects of in-person K-12 education. Senior citizens don't feel safe moving around the city. Business owners fear the devastating effects of another shutdown, after months of progress. To crack down on partying and social-distancing scofflaws, colleges and towns are working together to coordinate messaging. In Ann Arbor, the city council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that calls for fines of up to $250 for people who flout social distancing and mask guidelines. The ordinance, which reinforces existing public-health guidance, aligns with on-campus guidance from the university, one city council member said. The ordinance was the result of growing anxiety among city residents about the campus reopening.
Professors plan to strike for racial justice
Three headline-making images from the past week sparked an upcoming strike for racial justice -- what could be the biggest collective action by academics in recent memory. The first scene was Jacob Blake, a Black Kenosha, Wis., resident, being shot seven times in the back by a white police officer while his children watched. The second was Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager, being allowed to walk past police, long gun in hand, after he allegedly shot three Kenosha protesters, killing two. The third image was of players from the Women's National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association refusing to play in protest of continued police violence against unarmed Black people. Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, was watching it all unfold. "I would be down as a professor to follow the NBA and Strike for a few days to protest police violence in America," she tweeted. Within a few hours, Butler had a co-organizer, historian Kevin Gannon, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Grand View University, along with the #ScholarStrike hashtag, a mission statement and a date: Sept. 8 to 9.
Subduing student stress
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University, writes: With the return of school, it is natural for students to expect a certain degree of stress. With the omnipresent pandemic, it is likely that they are even more concerned to be returning to their normal school environment, especially given that it is a very new normal. These stresses are inevitable. However, there are some ways in which parents can help subdue those stresses. For example, they can be intentional in their questions to their children about school. According to's Caroline Miller, parents should frame their questions to encourage dialog without introducing stress. She advocates listening and validating their feelings. Examples of her framings include, rather than dismissing the fears with there is "nothing to worry about," instead listen and support their sentiment with phrases like, "I know it's hard." Instead of hinting to challenges like, "Are you worried about having Mr. Connelly for math?" try something like, "Do you know what you're going to be learning in math this year?"

Mississippi State football players boycott practice for social injustice
Actions speak louder than words. Less than 24 hours after Mississippi State defensive lineman Nathan Pickering said the social strife that has plagued the United States this summer is "definitely a problem," the MSU football team boycotted Thursday evening's practice. A majority of players convened at Unity Park in downtown Starkville instead. Unity Park was the same site where the Starkville Justice March started in June. The Bulldogs posed for a picture in front of a wall of plaques commemorating fame Civil Rights activists. That photo will forever be a memento of the message MSU football stood for -- a message coach Mike Leach shared support for in a tweet Thursday evening. "I am proud to be the Head Football Coach at Mississippi State," Leach said in his tweet. "I applaud our players for expressing some of their fears and anxieties today. I support them and look forward to working with them tomorrow, to use football to elevate us and the people around us. Hail State!"
MSU players boycott practice, protest for racial equality
With their right arms raised in the center of Unity Park, two blocks off Martin Luther King Boulevard and less than 100 yards from the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department, roughly 80 Mississippi State football players gathered Thursday evening in solidarity to protest against racial injustice in the United States. "Black, brown, blue, whatever, it doesn't matter," senior defensive end and Starkville native Kobe Jones said as players prepared to disperse. "We love you all." Thursday evening's protest came just hours after multiple sources confirmed to The Dispatch the Bulldogs were boycotting the day's practice. According to a source with immediate knowledge of the situation, older members of the team met with the coaching staff to discuss their action and are expected to be back to normal today, though they noted the players had the coaches' support. "For us and the players it's been all ball," inside receivers coach Dave Nichol said Wednesday. "Which at times is good, we can get our minds off of it. But I think it's good to have those conversations."
Ole Miss football players march to The Square in protest against police brutality
The Ole Miss football team has joined in on the wave of activism that has spread across college and professional sports this week. Instead of their regularly scheduled practice on Friday morning, players marched and gathered on The Square in downtown Oxford in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The players gathered in front of the monument on The Square that commemorates Confederate soldiers. Players were vocal about wanting to see the monument removed or relocated this summer. Ole Miss joins a long list of sports teams that have become involved in activism this week in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The movement began on Wednesday when the NBA playoffs were postponed amid a player strike and multiple MLB and WNBA regular season games were postponed as well. Ole Miss players MoMo Sanogo and Ryder Anderson organized a march in June in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd's death. That march raised more than $3,000 of the Boys and Girls Club of Oxford.
Local Businesses Work to Adjust to Fewer Fans, No Grove this Football Season
While the fall is normally a time for local businesses in Oxford to get ahead, this year business owners are being forced to get creative if they want to break even. As football season heads into uncharted waters, some are worried they won't be able to stay afloat. Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the capacity limits and lack of tailgating in the Grove are "devastating" to the local economy. However, Tannehill believes the time to make critical moves for the long-term stability and health of the community is now. "Finding a balance between lives and livelihoods is our goal each day, and it is impossible to positively impact one without negatively impacting the other," she told While there is agreement among most local officials and business owners that COVID-19 and its effects on the local economy will be felt for a long time, how this peculiar football season will directly affect businesses is something no one can predict, says Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jon Maynard. "The University is our key driver for our economy here, and athletics is one of the key drivers for the University's economy," Maynard said.
Southern Miss football players react to Jacob Blake shooting, boycotts
NBA players boycotted three playoff games Wednesday night in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Not long after WNBA, MLB and MLS players followed suit and more events were postponed. When the sports shutdown was taking place, the Southern Miss football team was practicing for the Sept. 3 season opener against visiting South Alabama. Senior Ky'el Hemby said the moment was huge for the sports world. "Me, I'm vocal, but when it comes to things like that I voice my opinion but I kind of stay away from those type of things," Hemby said on a Zoom call after Wednesday night's practice. "But as far as my brothers on my team and stuff, we all watch basketball. We all saw what happened in Wisconsin. It's crazy. It's the world we live in. We've just got to keep trucking." As far as planning any protests or any gestures to stand against racial injustice in the season opener, members of the team said nothing has been decided. "I think we'll probably have a meeting with the leaders of the team, offense and defense, and we've already had some guys kind of speak about it," senior quarterback Jack Abraham said. "It's going to be something that we kind of have to keep an eye on over the course of it and if we need to talk about it we will."
SEC still intends to play non-football sports this fall; releases new start dates, formats
The Southeastern Conference made an announcement Thursday afternoon affirming the league still intends to play its non-football sports, in addition football, this fall, although the NCAA has already canceled sponsored fall championships because of decisions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The SEC set new start dates and season formats for cross country, soccer, volleyball, golf and tennis this fall. The league also announced soccer and volleyball teams will participate in spring competition, with details coming at a later date once the NCAA makes final decisions on how it will hold spring championships for those sports. Baseball and softball can also have fall practices and intrasquad games this fall, the SEC said, although exhibition games against other schools are prohibited in the fall semester.
Auburn basketball pauses practice to support protest
The Auburn men's basketball team paused practice Thursday in order "support the peaceful protest shown by the NBA" on Wednesday night and Thursday night, Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl announced in a statement Thursday. He said the team will get back on the court Friday. The NBA playoffs have been put on hold as players point to racial injustice after a Black man was shot in the back by police in Wisconsin, the home state of the Milwaukee Bucks. Protests have followed that have postponed games in the WNBA and in Major League Baseball, and NFL teams have canceled practice to raise awareness, as well. "While our players and coaches feel safe and protected by our law enforcement in the Auburn community, we also recognize that doesn't exist for everyone, everywhere in our country," Pearl said in his statement. The athletics department also on Thursday posted a video message featuring all of the school's coaches delivering a message supporting unity. "We pledge to use our platform to make a difference," the message stated in part.
'It's not like this is a one-time thing': How Joni Taylor and others at UGA are responding to racial injustice
The sports world, which saw its reboot disrupted in some corners by COVID-19 outbreaks and continued concern for health and safety, is again tackling racial injustice. The NBA's Milwaukee Bucks pulled out of its playoff game Wednesday to seek accountability in the Sunday shooting by police in Kenosha, Wis., of Jacob Blake, a 29-year old Black man. That set off a wave of stoppages in play that included not only the NBA but MLS, some MLB games, the NHL and pro tennis. Georgia women's basketball coach Joni Taylor watched closely from Athens the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla. Her husband, Darius, is an assistant coach with the Atlanta Dream who had playoff games postponed both Wednesday and Thursday. He texted her Wednesday night to update her after players decided in a meeting to "stand in solidarity," by not playing. "As an African-American, as a Black person, you're torn because you have all of these other emotions going on," Taylor said. "Every time you watch that (video), I don't know if people who aren't Black fully understand how heavy it is when we watch something like that happen and then have to pick up and continue with our everyday lives and perform at a high level. It's not like this is a one-time thing. This has been happening for years. At some point, it just gets really heavy and it gets exhausting and it becomes just difficult."
Pac-12 headquarters cuts staff in half in the aftermath of shutting down football for the 2020 season
Faced with a massive decline in revenue in the aftermath of shuttering the 2020 football season, the Pac-12 on Wednesday reduced its workforce by approximately 50 percent across the conference and networks divisions -- at least for the time being. The networks, which have no live events to broadcast until next year, were hit with 66 furloughs and 10 layoffs, in addition to dozens of open positions that have been forfeited. The conference side lost 13 employees to furloughs and five to layoffs. All told, Pac-12 headquarters went from 190 full-time employees to a remaining staff of 96. The furloughs begin in early September and are for three months, allowing time for the vacant positions to be filled if competition resume in early 2021. Two weeks ago, the presidents and chancellors postponed all fall and winter sports until at least Jan. 1. Athletic departments across the conference are expected to implement significant layoffs, furloughs, salary reductions or all three.
Big Ten discussing start of college football season on week of Thanksgiving
With parents groups continuing to demand Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren further explain the reasons for shutting down the 2020 football season and eight Nebraska players filing a lawsuit in an attempt to overturn that decision, the league's football coaches continue working on a revised schedule. According to two college football people familiar with the Big Ten, those talks have generated a new option, starting a Big Ten season of at least eight games the week of Thanksgiving. The Journal Sentinel reported earlier this month that league officials were working on a plan to play an eight-game season beginning in January, with the games to be played in indoor facilities. If teams would be unable to take the field later this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, league officials could still fall back on the January start. The news comes one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval for a rapid antigen test designed by Abbott Labs. The test is expected to cost $5 and the results should be available in just 15 minutes, without the sample being sent to a lab.
Sports stars' intensifying activism is a blow to President Trump
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are pitting themselves against LeBron James and Black athletes, as another police shooting of a Black man propels the country's sports stars to a new level of political activism. But unlike in 2017, when the president took aim at professional football players who kneeled for the national anthem to protest racial inequality, athletes' activism in 2020 extends far more broadly, and the Black Lives Matter movement's resonance across the country is far deeper. Sports stars' embrace of the movement now threatens to undermine both Trump's attempts to paint protesters as anarchists and his efforts to peel off Black voters from Democrat Joe Biden in the November election. Asked by reporters Thursday about the protests, Trump responded that the NBA's "ratings have been very bad." Top White House officials were also dismissive, framing the protests as "silly" -- rich athletes showing how privileged they are. Those responses, however, ignore sports' cultural significance -- something of which the president, himself, is well aware.

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