Philly board approves online-only start to school year

The Philadelphia school district has approved plans to offer online-only instruction for students at least through the first marking period that ends in mid-November.

The city school board voted 7-1 on Thursday night to approve the proposal.

The district had planned to return students to class two days a week, but school officials switched gears last week after that proposal drew fears and criticism from parents, teachers and administrators.

The new plan will switch to a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning after Nov. 17, on the recommendations of the city’s Department of Health.

Board member Maria McColgan, a pediatrician, cast the lone no vote on the online-only plan, citing deep reservations about children being out of classrooms for so long and noting the science on the low virus risk for children.

On Friday, the board for Pittsburgh Public Schools voted to also start the school year online.

Pennsylvania high court upholds eviction moratoriumThe Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to the governor’s statewide moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, leaving in place an order that shields renters from losing their homes for failing to pay rent during the pandemic.

Two months after agreeing to decide the issue, the state’s high court, without explanation, abruptly dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association and individual landlords that challenged Gov. Tom Wolf’s constitutional authority to prevent evictions of nonpaying tenants.

Housing advocates expressed relief, landlords frustration, while a dissenting justice had harsh words for the majority, which said in Friday’s unsigned, one-line ruling that the court had made a mistake by accepting the case in the first place.

“The Governor took precipitous action that has impaired the business interests and property rights” of thousands of landlords, wrote Justice David Wecht, a Democrat, adding the court should have decided whether Wolf was within his rights to do so.

Wolf imposed the moratorium to prevent people from losing housing in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and widespread joblessness. The ban was recently extended to Aug. 31, though advocates are pushing to make it indefinite.

Landlords had been waging a legal fight against the moratorium, saying they are hard-pressed to keep up with taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and mortgage payments without the ability to enforce lease agreements.

N.J. replaces expiring federal health tax with state levyTRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Friday that will impose a tax on state health insurance plans after a federal levy expires and use those funds to reduce costs for residents.

The measure narrowly passed the Democrat-led legislature last week in the face of Republican opposition. Murphy said in a statement the bill is aimed at restoring a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that is set to expire this year.

The measure sets a levy of 2.5% of the net value of health insurance premiums. The law then applies those proceeds to certain health insurance markets, specifically those in the individual market, including minors.

There are nearly 300,000 people covered in New Jersey’s individual health insurance market, according to state statistics.

Compiled from Wire Services

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