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Universities get creative for pandemic management

While the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing teachers and students to be better-prepared for remote instruction and hybrid learning, higher education institutions are tapping into their research capabilities to help bring communities together to combat the virus. Between testing wastewater to detect COVID-19 to contact-tracing apps that sometimes rankle with their lack of privacy controls, universities are grasping for ways to effectively manage the pandemic on their campuses. Jake Williams has the story.

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Mental health looms large on campus

Fairfield University, a private Jesuit institution in Connecticut, announced Tuesday it will offer its approximately 1,000 graduate students access to a new on-demand therapy platform called UWill. Launched earlier this year with $3.25 million in seed funding from Run DMC co-founder Darryl McDaniels, the platform recommends counselors to students and allows sessions via video, chat or text-messaging on a platform designed with busy students and remote access in mind. “For most adults, even wildly successful adults, it’s still a big jump to go back to education and to shuffle that into the two, three four schedules they’re already managing," said Fairfield University’s Jill Buban. Colin Wood reports.

UCF students tap into NASA mission

University of Central Florida students enrolled in the Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites class this semester will get a chance to observe a historic NASA mission, gaining an inside look at what it takes conduct research in space. In NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, a probe will attempt to collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu. Students will hear about the mission in real time, analyze data collected by the spacecraft, discuss peer-reviewed papers and go on a virtual tour of mission control, which is not open to the public. “Because I can teach remotely [during the pandemic], it provided me a golden opportunity for my students to live a NASA mission with me,” said UCF physics professor Humberto Campins. Betsy Foresman has the details.

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