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August 8, 2020

Darts and Laurels: Technology fee waiver will help during virtual learning

Laurel to the Rowan-Salisbury School Board for waving technology fees for students this year.

Particularly during a changed class schedule because of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak, devices — iPads or laptops — will make learning possible. Standard procedure in a normal year would be to deprive the student of the ability to take his or her device home until the fee is paid. A previous proposal would have lowered the fee to $20, but even that would have excluded some students to whom $20 is a significant amount of money when their family is living paycheck to paycheck.

The waiver approved Monday will contribute to what’s expected to be a $700,000 shortfall in the district’s budget, which is expected to require a transfer from savings. But this is a scenario where the cost is worth the potential benefit.

For many students, at-home learning three days per week is going to be a significant barrier to normal progress. So, it was good to see one hurdle removed.

Laurel to Rowan County, which plans to release a weekly case positive rate that more accurately reflects all COVID-19 testing here.

For too long, data released by Rowan County, through no fault of its own, has not provided a complete picture of testing. The percent of positives has hovered in the teens, a worrying percentage if true. The issue, however, was that the county was not receiving all negative results.

Now, a section of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website says about 7% of tests conducted here have returned positive and county spokesman T.J. Brown says the Rowan County Health Department is working to provide a weekly number that reflects many more negative test results that had previously not been received by local officials.

Particularly because the country remains fundamentally divided over basic facts about COVID-19, more transparency is needed. And the positive rate is a good example of much-needed transparency.

Dart to the unsurprising development that Congress is bickering over details of how much to help struggling Americans as extra, coronavirus-induced benefits are scheduled to run out this week.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package in May, which went nowhere in the Senate. And Senate Republicans just offered their plan this week. Among other things, they argue that $600 in extra benefits is too high for many. Being unemployed has paid better for some workers than the job they lost. That’s a fine argument to make, but it didn’t need to wait until a deadline to decided what comes next.

If those elected to represent us are actually interested in keeping the country afloat rather than playing partisan politics, they’ll compromise quickly and ensure much-needed relief continues in some form.

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