NC SCHOOLS WILL REOPEN IN AUGUST WITH LIMITED ATTENDANCE: North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students will return to school in August, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday, but it will be in a world where many children only attend in-person classes every other day or every other week. Cooper announced that K-12 public schools will reopen under a “moderate social distancing” plan that limits how many people can be on campus, forcing many students to get a mix of in-person and remote instruction. The reopening plan requires daily temperature and health screening checks, maintaining 6 feet of social distancing and face coverings to be worn by all school employees and students. Cooper said school districts can reopen with remote-only instruction if they determine that it’s best for students, parents and teachers in that area. He warned that the state may switch to requiring all schools to use online-only instruction if COVID-19 cases spike and they can’t safely reopen under the new health protocols.
BUNCOMBE COUNTY REMOVES CONFEDERATE MONUMENT IN FRONT OF COURTHOUSE: Workers have removed a Confederate monument that stands outside a county courthouse in the western North Carolina city of Asheville. The Citizen-Times reports that the monument was taken down Tuesday morning. The monument outside the Buncombe County courthouse honored the 60th Regiment and Battle of Chickamauga. The city of Asheville recently took down a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stood downtown. Confederate monuments are coming down throughout the American South in the wake of protests against racism and police brutality. The wave of public sentiment was sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. County and city officials have also called for the creation of a task force to come up with a plan for a monument that honors Zebulon Vance. He was a Buncombe native and North Carolina governor during the Civil War as well as a U.S. senator. The Vance monument stands in downtown Asheville. It was recently shrouded from view.
SOME ACTIVISTS WANT "TAR HEEL" REMOVED FROM UNC SPORTS: “Workers who distilled turpentine from the sticky sap of pine trees and burned pine boughs to produce tar and pitch often went barefoot during hot summer months and undoubtedly collected tar on their heels,” UNC’s website says. Calling someone a “rosin heel” or “tar heel” was considered an insult. Leloudis said it was “dirty, undesirable work,” usually done by people who were enslaved or by poor whites. “Tar Heel was a derogatory term, in both race and class,” he said. Leloudis offered a slightly different interpretation of that tie to the Civil War, saying it was used as propaganda in support of the Confederacy. A newspaper article in 1863 mentioned a sergeant in the Confederate army who talked about a recent battle and said some Confederate troops ran away. But this sergeant and and other North Carolinians stood their ground and were proud to be called Tar Heels because they had stayed anchored in place as if they had tar on their heels, Leloudis said. UNC sports teams adopted the nickname “Tar Heels” in the 1880s, but there’s no archival information about the reasoning behind that name or debate about it, according to UNC. Leloudis said UNC athletics embraced the phrase as an expression of pride, but it’s safe to assume the support had those “Confederate Lost Cause overtones” at the time.
HARVARD AND MIT FORCE TRUMP TO BACK OFF ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: The Trump administration on Tuesday dropped its much-criticized plan to require international college students to leave the United States unless they are enrolled in the fall term in at least one face-to-face class. The abrupt reversal, disclosed in a federal court in Boston, came a little more than a week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an edict that stunned U.S. higher education leaders and students worldwide. Under the July 6 policy from ICE, international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities for the fall semester faced a mandate to take at least one course in person. Those students, ICE said, “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had sued to block the new policy. In a hearing in that case on Tuesday, held before U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, the judge announced that the schools and the federal government had reached an agreement that made the lawsuit moot. In their suit, Harvard and MIT argued that the Trump administration’s action violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies make rules. They also claimed the ICE decision was a political move calculated to force universities to reopen campuses and hold classes in person despite the soaring toll of the coronavirus in death and illness.
TRUMP SET TO GUT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS FOR PIPELINES AND HIGHWAYS: President Trump on Wednesday is set to unilaterally weaken one of the nation’s bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public review of federal infrastructure projects to speed up the permitting of freeways, power plants and pipelines. Revising the 50-year-old law through regulatory reinterpretation is one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the Trump administration, which to date has moved to rollback 100 rules protecting clean air and water, and others that aim to reduce the threat of human-caused climate change. The final rule sets new hard deadlines of between one and two years to complete environmental studies, according to two people who have seen the document but were not authorized to speak about it publicly. The rule will also allow agencies to develop categories of activities that do not require an environmental assessment at all. And in one of the most bitterly contested provisions, the rule would free federal agencies from having to consider the impacts of infrastructure projects on climate change. It does so by eliminating the need for agencies to analyze a project’s indirect or “cumulative” effects on the environment and specifying they are only required to analyze “reasonably foreseeable” impacts. “This may be the single biggest giveaway to polluters in the past 40 years,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. He accused the Trump administration of “turning back the clock to when rivers caught fire, our air was unbreathable and our most beloved wildlife was spiraling toward extinction.”