Families despair over post-holiday return to remote learning

DETROIT — Parent Latonya Peterson sums up her frustration over Detroit schools returning — at least temporarily — to virtual learning in three short words: “I hate it.” Facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Detroit district this week joined a growing number of others in moving classes online after the winter break. The shift involving 50,000 students once again leaves parents juggling home and work schedules around the educational needs of their children. A single parent who works more than 60 hours each week at two jobs, Peterson sometimes had to miss work to help her teenage son during more than a year of online learning. The vast majority of U.S. districts appear to be returning to in-person learning, but other large school systems including those in Newark, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Cleveland have gone back to remote learning as infections soar and sideline staff members. Dozens of smaller districts have followed, including many around Detroit, Chicago and Washington.

How do I know if I have a cold, the flu or COVID-19?

Experts say testing is the best way to determine what you have since symptoms of the illnesses can overlap. The viruses that cause colds, the flu and COVID-19 are spread the same way — through droplets from the nose and mouth of infected people. And they can all be spread before a person realizes they're infected. The time varies for when someone with any of the illnesses will start feeling sick. Some people infected with the coronavirus don't experience any symptoms, but it's still possible for them to spread it. Cough, fever, tiredness and muscle aches are common to both the flu and COVID-19, says Kristen Coleman, as assistant research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Symptoms specific to COVID-19 include the loss of taste or smell. Common colds, meanwhile, tend to be milder with symptoms including a stuffy nose and sore throat. Fevers are more common with the flu.

Flush Georgia revenue could bring pay raises and tax cuts

ATLANTA — Pay raises for teachers, higher funding for K-12 schools and universities and a tax cut are all possibilities as lawmakers survey what's likely to be a prosperous state revenue picture. State revenues through November were running more than $1 billion ahead of the $27.3 billion that lawmakers designated for spending in the current budget year running through June 30. Georgia plans to spend $49.9 billion overall in the budget year that began July 1, once federal and other funds are included. With that extra cash, Gov. Brian Kemp wants lawmakers to boost teacher pay by another $2,000, completing his promise to give teachers a $5,000 raise over four years. That's projected to cost $461 million. It would cost $383 million to bring the state's K-12 funding formula to the full amount that it says the state should provide for schools. The state could also restore austerity cuts to universities.

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