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Despite the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in the state, as well as clear scientific evidence that shows children need in-person learning, some schools around the nation are prolonging closures for more than a year after they were first shut down.

Some of these schools include the Newark Public School District and Jersey City Public Schools in New Jersey, which will not reopen for in-person learning until mid-April.

“As per Superintendent Leon, all remote instruction will be extended until after Spring Break. In-person classes will resume April 12, 2021, with the implementation of hybrid-model instruction,” the Newark Board of Education announced in an Instagram post in early January.

While the Newark school district originally planned to reopen multiple times, even offering a part-time plan following Christmas break, pressure from the district’s teachers union has kept students at home for virtual learning.

“We don’t think it’s safe to reopen,” Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon told Chalkbeat. “Right now, we’re doing everything in our power to try to stop it.”

While the school district already made an effort to meet certain demands from union members, including collecting “hundreds of thousands of face masks” and spending millions on refurbishing the schools’ air filtration days before the scheduled return to classroom learning, some teachers threatened to quit if they were forced back into in-person instruction. Even the schools that have finally and begrudgingly reopened for in-person learning are facing extreme demands from teachers unions determined to continue virtual learning.

After a long history of winning over Mayor Lori Lightfoot with strikes and other demands, more than 100 Chicago teachers refused to show up on their first day back to work in the spring semester. Instead of showing up to school ready to teach on Monday, some teachers hosted a “teach-in,” conducting classes online while outside in the freezing temperatures.

As a result, Chicago Public Schools docked their pay and blocked them from teaching, even remotely, the thousands of pre-kindergarten and special education students who were allowed back in classrooms in January.

In West Virginia, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia announced its decision

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to sue the state Board of Education, the state Department of Education, and other county boards of education “to protect the health and safety of school employees,” after the state Board of Education unanimously passed a motion this week that prohibits schools from staying virtual after Jan. 19, overturning decisions by county boards to stay closed.

“With vaccine distribution underway, county boards who planned to have all willing employees vaccinated prior to a full return to in-person learning were exhibiting responsible leadership in protecting the health and safety of their staff and communities,” the American Federation of Teachers’ statement reads. “These are reasonable decisions and should not be usurped by an appointed body with no accountability to voters.”

While Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others are finally following the science on returning to schools in the midst of COVID-19, some schools are still bowing to the demands of the teachers unions. Instead of prioritizing the needs of students, who are limited and even hurt by virtual learning, and the parents who are required to return to work in-person, some school districts continue to negotiate and renegotiate with their staff over a virus that does not have a higher rate of spread within schools than it does within other community settings that have been deemed “essential.”

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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