Public schools

Biden Airlifts the Goalposts on School Reopening: 1 Day a Week!

Administration wants to spend $200 billion hiring new teachers for closed schools that are bleeding students. What could go wrong?

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"Biden vows to reopen most schools after 1st 100 days on the job," ran the Associated Press headline on December 8. Advocates of reopening who follow the issue closely could see the potential wiggle room—it's not the federal government's call, the full statement was shot through with hedges and conditions, "most" just means 50 percent plus one, etc.

Still, even after the downgrading of most K-12 schools to most K-8 schools (sorry, Classes of 2021-24, you're just hosed), I can't say I was ready for a goalpost-shift this tectonic:

 

This is the ground-softening in advance of the Biden administration's expected guidelines tomorrow to "safely reopen" K-8 schools in the United States, which has had among the lowest percentage of classroom attendance in the industrialized world during these past 11 pandemic-cursed months.

Reopening has become a heated political issue, with labor clashes delaying in-school instruction in Democratic-run big cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Remote and hybrid learning has been statistically brutal on students and their parents, with the former suffering educational setbacks and significant increases in emotional problems, and the latter experiencing a mass dropout of women from the labor force.

Teachers unions and the politicians they support, including Biden, say that more money is needed to safely reopen elementary, middle, and high schools, on top of the $69 billion in additional federal funding they received in two 2020 COVID-relief bills. (The K-12 system typically receives around $40 billion a year from the feds.) Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package proposal contains $130 billion for pre-college education, and an additional $350 billion in fiscal stabilization for the states. Given that public school spending amounts to around 20 percent of state budgets, it's safe to assume around $70 billion of that would go to K-12.

Complicating that combined $200 billion ask is the fact that many schools are already open five days a week, without any new checks being written.

"More than 70 [percent] of all K-12 students in Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and Utah have the option of in-person instruction, while Florida and Wyoming are teaching almost all of their students in person," reported CBS News, citing the reopening-tracker website Burbio. "All of these states also have 'right to work' laws that say no one can be forced to join a union, which means that…if the district orders schools to be reopened, teachers must show up for work or risk losing their job."

Whereas most of the public system remains fully or partially closed, most private schools are fully open, including in the same cities and neighborhoods where government-run education is 100 percent remote. And many of the empty school buildings in largely closed districts are not in fact empty—they are filled with kids, being supervised by adults, just not adults who belong to teachers unions.

Regardless of the contractual status of participating adults, indoor buildings full of kids during weekdays have consistently been among the safest known settings for humans to gather during the COVID pandemic. This was true in late August, when the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was running anti-Donald Trump scare-ads characterizing schools as "superspreader events," as it is true this week, when the The New York Times is implausibly portraying AFT President Randi Weingarten as a tireless advocate for reopening schools.

A president and political party who campaigned on the haughty promise to "listen to scientists and heed their advice—not silence them," now find themselves shooshing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for making factual statements that complicate the P.R. rollout for the $200 billion beg.

"There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on February 3, echoing the position of her predecessor. "Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools."

Responded White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on February 4: "Dr. Walensky spoke to this in her personal capacity."

So what specific measures are in the $200 billion proposal?

According to a White House breakdown, $60 billion would go for preventing layoffs, $50 billion for reducing class size (which comes with an estimated 10 percent staffing bump), $29 billion for extra make-up learning and tutorial, $14 billion for increased custodial staff, $10 billion for more counselors and psychologists, and $3 billion for school nurses. So basically 80 percent of the money would go toward personnel. At a time when K-12 enrollment is down by around 6 percent nationwide.

To sum up: The Biden administration seeks an extra $200 billion, on top of the $70 billion in extraordinary COVID relief already spent, so that K-8 schools that have been bleeding students can hire enough more teachers and staff that maybe 50 percent of them can open once a week by April. Meanwhile, private schools without a drop of federal funding have remained open five days a week in the most shuttered cities.

Sound like a plan?

"Science is not the obstacle. Federal money is not the obstacle. The obstacle is a lack of willpower," snarled Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) in a February 3 statement. "The President's Chief of Staff keeps saying we need even more massive federal funding before teachers can go back. There's no scientific basis for that. The goalpost-moving doesn't stop with money. In several places, these unions sought to elbow toward the front of the line for vaccinations—only to turn around and say, thanks for those vaccines, but don't think these will necessarily get our folks back in the classroom anytime soon."

But McConnell isn't the one who holds power here. Democrats are prepared to use Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker on a 50-50 Senate vote, so the only thing standing between teachers unions and their workplace-avoiding payday is any lingering sense of shame about moving goalposts, breaking promises, ignoring science, infuriating parents, and inflicting measurable damage on students.

"Schools plan for potential of remote learning into the fall," went yesterday's Associated Press headline. Meanwhile, those millions of us parents who want no such thing are making other plans of our own.

NEXT: Biden Considers Forcing Domestic Airline Passengers to Get a Negative COVID Test

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  1. How are the teachers and their unions expected to engage in Dem Party activism if they’re stuck in class 5 days a week?

    1. Get promoted to the school board in a major city after teaching elementary school for 2 years?

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    2. Isn’t the indoctrination they do inside the classroom their primary method of activism?

      Without public a public education system teaching that the New Deal “ended the depression”, someone might come along and explain to the kids that it was actually the mobilization for war (and the conscription/enlistment of a million or more potential members of the workforce) which ultimately led to any economic changes.

      1. “Isn’t the indoctrination they do inside the classroom their primary method of activism?..”

        Pretty much:
        “S.F. high school students get a lesson in subtle white privilege”
        […]
        “Three weeks ago I processed the Capitol insurrection with my high school students. Rallying our inquiry skills, we analyzed the images of that historic day, images of white men storming through the Capitol, fearless and with no forces to stop them. “This,” I said, “is white supremacy, this is white privilege. It can be hard to pinpoint, but when we see, it, we know it.”
        Across our Zoom screen, they affirmed, with nods, thumbs-ups, and emojis of anger and frustration. Fast-forward two weeks as we analyzed images from the inauguration, asking again, “What do we see?” We saw diversity, creativity and humanity, and a nation embracing all of this and more. On the day of the inauguration, Bernie Sanders was barely on our radar. The next day, he was everywhere…”
        https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/S-F-high-school-students-get-a-lesson-in-subtle-15909700.php

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      2. “Without public a public education system teaching that the New Deal “ended the depression”, someone might come along and explain to the kids that it was actually the mobilization for war (and the conscription/enlistment of a million or more potential members of the workforce) which ultimately led to any economic changes.”

        I assume the levelling of Europe was a huge benefit as well.

    3. Why does anyone assume that helping children is the point of any of this? Driving children to suicide is a PERK, not a BUG of this plan because these people believe in human sacrifice. In the old days, their ancestors killed people to satisfy Moloch or whatever; today, it’s COVID or climate change or whatever. The point is that killing people is critical to the plan, which is grasping more and more power in the name of “helping” the survivors.

    4. Biden Airlifts the Goalposts on School Reopening: 1 Day a Week!
      Administration wants to spend $200 billion hiring new teachers for closed schools that are bleeding students. What could go wrong………used this site………MORE DETAIL.

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    6. How are the teachers and their unions expected to riot, loot, burn and assault if they’re stuck in class 5 days a week?

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    7. nailed it…

  2. Whereas most of the public system remains fully or partially closed, most private schools are fully open, including in the same cities and neighborhoods where government-run education is 100 percent remote.

    Private schools where public school teachers send their kids.

  3. Our public schools are fully open, with an online option for people who need it.

    Last day of school is end of May.

    $200B to open schools 1 day a week for a month? Why bother?

    1. Our district is running a hybrid model of 2 days in class, 2 days virtual, and Wednesday off. My daughter has at most an hour of worksheets/online quizzes on her days at home. They aren’t learning anything. The shrieking harpy Karens are a lot of why we couldn’t do that obvious compromise. Should have offered parents the two options of normal school or virtual for those who are concerned. Unfortunately, the type of person who thinks it’s unsafe for their kid to go to school can’t abide by your kid having the option. These people are authoritarians who believe it is their right to force everyone to think and do things the same as themselves

      1. Why 2 days a week? Does Covid take Friday off? Is it super deadly on Wednesday, so much do you can catch it via Zoom?

        1. The idea presented was to reduce capacity by more than half and to give them time to “deep clean” on Wednesdays. It is pure pandering bs

          1. But, but, but, contact transmission is not a thing –
            If it were, we would be wearing gloves as well as “cloth face coverings”.

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  4. don’t know how, but makes redhead not sexy.

    1. Most redheads are crazy, but Psaki’s the wrong kind of crazy.

    2. Why? She has all the crazy.

      1. none of it says take me to bed. mho.

        1. Now imagine Karen Gillan saying “let me circle back to you on that”.

          1. Only if it’s in her Scottish accent.

          2. lol who says I haven’t?

            1. “I’ll circle around your dick on that.”

    3. There are two types of red heads, those that are hot, and those that are fugly, with almost none in-between.

  5. $50 billion for reducing class size (which comes with an estimated 10 percent staffing bump)

    1. REALLY sick of hearing about class size reductions. My classes (’70s-80s) routinely had 25 or more students. We survived.

    2. The 10 percent staffing bump is a blatant payoff to the unions. This has nothing to do with education.

    1. 30 students per class was normal back then.
      And we had to learn actual math, history, science, language, etc.

      1. i’m sure it helped that we were actually afraid of these crazy things called consequences if we were out of line

    2. 1. Same here, same time period. We survived, but we’re the forgotten generation. Wait, that’s it! The Gen X victim card, “No one remembers us. No one loves us. We’re all latchkey kids, even our Moms didn’t want to be around us.” It was basically infanticide of an entire generation.

      Now where do I sign up to suckle on the government’s hind teet? I want some free shit, man. Also, which statues do I get to topple? We need a hashtag. What’s our hashtag?

      1. Hell, Gen-Xers are the ones driving a lot of this shit, now that we’re old enough to be in managerial and critical political positions. That’s mainly because our generation has so few numbers, it can’t help but follow whatever the latest socio-political trend happens to be, just as a survival technique. Gen-X hasn’t driven the cultural zeitgeist since 9/11, and in about 10 years, they’re going to get squeezed out of the professional realm by the Millennials, and that will be the end of whatever cultural influence they once had.

        I guarantee if Millennials, the media, and academia were more conservative or nationalist, Gen-Xers would be, too. Gen-Xers like to pretend they’re still all super-cynical about everything like they were in the 90s, but that shit ain’t the truth anymore.

        1. Red….Gen Xer here. My experience has been Gen Xers are mostly no nonsense. Admittedly, I have a very small social circle. I’d say Gen X is defined by the following:

          “Whatever”
          “Fuck it”
          “We can make that happen”

          I have to confess, I am not so much cynical as I am jaded.

    3. ’84 freshman class in NJ had 1200 kids we had to goto school @noon

    4. We had 25-ish per class in grade school (K-8) in the late 80’s / early 90’s, but by high school if varied a bit, depending on what class you were taking. Some specialty classes might have as few as 8 (AP Chem, Technical Drafting, Advanced Calculus, etc) while others might have 40 or 50 (Recreational Physics [gym], Band, etc).

    5. Montessori said larger classes are better; students who learn faster help the slower learners catch up.

      1. That’s absurd. Public school is all about making 95% of the students spend the day quietly staring at the wall while the teachers attend to the stupid kids. It instills the value of keeping your mouth shut and staring into space until the idiots all around you have been taken care of. If you learned anything from a teacher at any point in your years in public school, it means you were one of the idiots.

  6. Why is this a federal issue? Houston public schools are open. If they can do it, Chicago can do it.

    If they choose not to, why should I care?

    https://www.houstonisd.org/reopening

    1. Exactly, the feds should have fuck-all to say or do about any of this.

      1. Is it just an underfunded public pension bailout fund for irresponsible districts?

    2. It’s not a federal issue, in a non-dysfunctional, non-banana republic. In the United States of Clown World, it is.

    3. Money. It’s always money. Other People’s Money.

  7. (sorry, Classes of 2021-24, you’re just hosed)

    Drop out for the rest of the year/summer, train up on your own, come back in a year ahead of everyone else?

  8. I can’t wait to read about Jen demsplaining how the CDC ad saying herd immunity is 70% doesn’t mean anything will change when we get to 70%.
    It’s a really great PSA. Lots of pictures of happy smiling people taking off their “cloth face coverings”.
    All we have to do is get vaccinated. I guess so they can actually have a large study of long term side effects in five or ten years.

    1. I guess so they can actually have a large study of long term side effects in five or ten years.

      C’mon man, this is the government. There will be large studies of long term side effects *and* subsidized medical interventions. Of course, in the name of social justice, we’ll have to test them disproportionately on minorities first.

      1. The Tuskegee Study was a Democratic training manual.

    2. Apparently one of the vaccines (the Moderna one, I believe) is causing a number of pregnant women to miscarry, so now they’re saying pregnant women shouldn’t get the coof stick until after the kid is born. One pregnant doctor who virtue-signaled her shot on Twitter lost her kid a week later.

      Contrast this with the Salk polio vaccine, which pregnant women were actually encouraged to get so they could pass the immunity on to their children in the womb.

      1. I would love to see some evidence of this actually happening; my network has seen literally no adverse reactions among the preggers to this point, and our MFM guys are sick to death of responding to the fertility concerns.

        The rate of miscarriage is ~15% or so. The impact of the vaccine, if it exists, is probably going to be statistical noise against that background.

        1. my network

          ROFLMAO!

          1. Ok, “my employer’s network.” We’ve only done 70K shots to this point, so obviously not much to go on.

  9. Too bad you guys only care about mean tweets.

  10. Just call it a year and reopen next fall.

    Then move and don’t leave a forwarding address. Never send your kids back.

  11. Did the Chi Omega Sorority President Bitch-splain that to America?

  12. To hear teachers who get a microphone complain that their job is too dangerous to do in person is just plain bullshit.

    I worked every day for the past 11 months without a 6 foot bubble. Six to 8 hours a day with a kid, two scrub nurses, couple residents, surgeon, and a medical student all inside my 6 foot sphere. Hundreds of perioperative physicians, nurses, technicians, student, support staff, housekeeping, and others have kept the most tightly packed area of the hospital, the operating rooms, humming. Similar with my colleagues in critical care and emergency medicine.
    Those who did get Covid mostly were pretty certain that they picked it up at home or non-work sources.

    Wear a mask, wash your hands. Keep calm.

  13. Libertarians hoping for more government handouts and privileges.

  14. If only there had been a candidate that insisted on making aid to schools dependent on them reopening!

    “Determined to reopen America’s schools despite coronavirus worries, President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall.”

    —-USA Today, July 8. 2020

    https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-07-08/trump-pushes-state-local-leaders-to-reopen-schools-in-fall

  15. I’m torn. While I hate that government school teachers are getting paid I’d rather they not work for it. No school attendance and mothers leaving the workforce are both good.

  16. Hey, at least the newspapers aren’t screaming about mean tweets! Totally worth it!

  17. To be fair, I don’t recall ever hearing Biden promise to re-open the schools. He was always pretty careful to use the “safely” caveat, which told me he had no intention of re-opening the schools. “Safely” apparently means greatly reduced class sizes (hiring lots more teachers), more classrooms, upgraded heating and air systems, etc., stuff that ought to take no more than a few years and a few hundred billion dollars to implement.

    In the meantime, schools are open just fine here, so all this talk of what needs to be done to ensure safety is obviously a complete load of bullshit, just tell the teachers to get their fat, lazy, overpaid asses back to work or they’ll be fired and replaced with Walmart greeters. Then fire ’em and replace them with Walmart greeters any way because chances are Walmart greeters aren’t as aggressively retarded as your average teacher.

    1. They’re lazy, not retarded. It’s the admins that are retarded.

      There’s lots of ways to reopen safely without increased staffing, but the teachers want to continue posting two worksheets a week to Google classroom and the admins are in no mood to press them to do otherwise.

  18. Matt Welch REALLY regretting voting for Biden now.

  19. Cultural marxism is about destroying families, freedom, liberty while enriching the useless elites…Biden is an idiot for signing up for this..obviously senile or worse..teacher unions are modern day bolsehviks and should be banned as a threat to freedom..Trump was right..he was between the nuts and our money…

    1. Biden has never given a shit about anything other than grasping the levers of power, and making sure that he and his own get enriched in the process.

      The authors and editors here are the true cultural Marxists.

  20. Alright; someone here called it a couple weeks ago.
    “Administration wants to spend $200 billion”

    It’s all about MORE money!

  21. “Our goal is to have 50 percent of schools open by April 30, 2021 — ‘at least one day per week’”

    “, that is, open to workers gradually installing plexiglass shields and lane markers in preparation for the return of students in the fall of 2022.”

  22. My husband and I have become friendly with the couple who owns a coffee shop/pharmacy in the next town over. They live about 20 minutes away from us in another town in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh. Their kids school has been partially opened intermittently, but mostly closed all year. In our district, parent’s can also choose distance learning or hybrid, but over 70 percent chose in person. Last week the cafe owner says if the school doesn’t reopen asap, she wants to move because the kids need to be in school and she and her husband need to work and earn a living and pay higher property taxes to live in a good school district. But she supported Biden-Harris in the election and even wears pro-Harris t-shirts. We are black and they are white. I don’t really get into the politics but stick to economics aspects. She agrees with me, but I wonder if her feelings would change about me if I took it a step farther and explained that the liberals she supports don’t really represent her best interests. She admitted that she and her husband fared better under Trump’s policies, but she just could not vote for him because of moral objections. He was too divisive compared to the Dems, the party of unity for all who are willing to be reeducated and reprogrammed. I grew up poor and worked hard to get where I am. I can’t afford the real estate on the moral high ground.

    1. I can’t afford the real estate on the moral high ground.

      And neither can they, that’s why they’re talking about moving. And yet they can’t see any connection between what they vote for and what they get.

    2. Florida is nice this time of year – – – – – –

      1. Noooooo don’t send them to my state. No more liberals trying to fuck things up by voting for the same shit they are escaping from. Assholes.

    3. It takes two to be divisive. If everyone agrees with Trump he wouldn’t be divisive. When Biden speaks of unity he is really saying it’s time for everyone to agree with him. Don’t people like that nice couple understand this?

    4. I can’t afford the real estate on the moral high ground.

      That’s a pretty economic way to indict the current administration. It’s a shame that they’re leaving after the previous administration made the moral high ground so affordable. Hopefully, the current administration can slow the rising price of the moral high ground.

    5. “…He was too divisive compared to the Dems…”

      IOW they are your standard media victims. When Trump was in office everything was ugly all the time, but now that Biden is in it’s all about calm and ‘unity.’ Even if that means ignoring or downplaying the truth.

      They don’t even realize haw badly they are getting played.

      Of course, the authors and editors here are doing much the same.

      1. To be fair…would schools be opened if Trump won? No. Teacher’s Unions are running the show now…

        This is why the Trump Administration rightfully threatened to withhold gov $ to schools that did not take the CDC guidance and reopen back in August. That is all the power a President has over state-run schools.

        Meanwhile, private schools and European schools/day care have been open for nine months…with no serious issues.

        1. Trump would have done what Reagan did w/the air traffic strikers (and make no mistake, this is a never ending school strike): order them back to work and if they don’t return, they’re fired and replaced.

          Biden? He’ll wait for his union payoffs. The children be damned.

    6. Bronxbred,

      Thank you for your thoughtful post! I am a parent of two (13 and 11) and we have homeschooled this semester after it became clear that our politicans are too afraid of the Teacher Union lawsuits, and losing their votes, to make the sensible and moral decisions.

      It is just so, so sad. 56,000,000 children in this country go to public schools…and they are truly suffering.

      Quick CDC data that bounces right off the fearful:

      105 people under age of 20 have died of covid. In the meantime, sadly, over 25,000 people under 20 have died of things that were NOT covid (this is about average).

      The fear is objectively irrational…yet here we are.

      All the best to you and your family!

      Jim
      Husband, father, small-business owner, taxpayer

    7. Amen. +100

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  24. This nation is fucking toast. The fear of litigation drives our decisions.

    My wife and I are homeschooling our children these days, and it is going well.

    On the bright side, perhaps this is the dumpster fire needed to get our public schools back to simply teaching basics, “The three Rs”?

    European Nations opened all schools for kids under 16 years old in early May, and we have nine months of data that tells us this is the right thing to do.

    What in the fuck is wrong with us?! Nobody has any balls anymore. All fear, anxiety, and running towards the mythical “safe spaces” it would seem.

  25. If only there had been a group of people who had been speaking out for years about the increasing amount of power that public unions were getting. There could even be some sort of publication that could collect these stories all in one place.

    Wouldn’t that be sweet?

  26. Who cares what the idiot does. This is a state by state issue, and the federal government cannot dictate policy

  27. I love how the never Trumpers act as if this is somehow beyond the pale. You elected the idiot, what did you expect? Hilarious.

  28. From the article:

    “Teachers unions and the politicians they support, including Biden, say that more money is needed to safely reopen elementary, middle, and high schools, on top of the $69 billion in additional federal funding they received in two 2020 COVID-relief bills.”

    It is always about money with teachers unions. What do they need exactly, besides masks? They need MORE $ than what was in the first two relief bills I guess? Always more, more money is needed. Meanwhile, contractors that win bids for these schools make bank, and little money goes to teachers wages.

    Always need more money…never any self-reflection about doing better without more money.

  29. The resolution to this problem is a simple one. The unions are supposed to be there to protect the workers, right? So get the damn teachers vaccinated ASAP and get the schools open. You can also add the students to get vaccinated as well. I know, I know, children don’t die from Covid. Well actually they do, just not as much as adults. But they can still get it and spread it. So if vaccinating the kids make the teachers happy, then just do it. Problem solved. And if you are a Trump voter or anti vaxxer. The reason I added Trump voters the that statement is because I’m sure many trump voters will refuse to be vaccinated because some magical chip will be injected into them. So, if you are stupid enough to believe that, then you can put your kids in some private school who doesn’t care if the kids are vaccinated or not. eventually those kids will be weeded out by contracting Covid and getting better or they will die. But that’s a parents responsibility, not mine.

    Problem solved!

  30. so the question is, how dxmb did you have to be to believe in joe biden, the corrupt career politician that barely graduated from an inconsequential university?

    not a word about the oversized impact of this loony idea on black/brown kids and their parents. not a word. he’s a union flack, an old, empty, corrupt carcass.

  31. The teacher’s unions will never let Covid end unless there’s something equally bad or worse to replace it. In class instruction will be a relic of the past in blue states. And we’ll still be told the teachers are underpaid.

  32. The teachers’ unions are not going away; they’re an endless plague. So, let’s just get rid of public schools.

    Parents can start their own school pods w/friends and neighbors, pay privately (and reasonably ) for teachers.

    Those on welfare can use their welfare to pay to educate their own children in privately created schools, and, if necessary, get a small stipend from other tax payers (who will no longer have to pay mammoth schools taxes) to help them pay.

  33. “fiscal stabilization for the states.” My teacher spouse is going to use this as an example of a euphemism. It is nice way of saying “bailout of bankrupt Democrat-lead states.”

  34. The U.S. has approximately 3,300,000 K-12 teachers
    $200 Billion (or $200,000,000,000) works out to
    about $60,000 additional spending *per* *teacher*.
    I knew the Democrats were into spoils politics.
    I knew the teachers unions were key operatives for them.
    I didn’t realize it was quite this lucrative.

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