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How U. Texas built the statewide COVID-19 dashboard

To predict how COVID-19 will spread though Texas communities, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin developed a new COVID-19 data dashboard that can make four-week projections on the potential spread and impact of the virus, giving local leaders time to implement health guidelines before outbreaks get out of hand. Launched earlier this month, the dashboard tracks hospitalization data and anonymous cellphone mobility data to predict how the pandemic is progressing across the 22 Trauma Service Areas the state has been divided into to help citizens, school boards, city and county leaders, and health care providers make informed decisions for their families and communities. Betsy Foresman reports.

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Arizona State taps into VR for biology courses

Arizona State University has begun developing new immersive locales using virtual reality, starting with a virtual wildlife sanctuary for biology students. Through a new partnership with the virtual reality company Dreamscape Immersive, ASU leaders said they aim to make online classes more engaging, creating an immersive educational experience for students while they are learning remotely during the pandemic. Starting with introductory biology, and eventually expanding to more courses, the tools are designed to allow students to explore and engage with virtual worlds as an avatar in a game-like learning system. Betsy has more.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt higher ed

With a growing numbers of students contracting COVID-19, several universities across the country are reevaluating their plans to reopen classes for the fall semester. The reversals come after many universities decided to bring students back to campus for the fall, including the University of Arizona, which in August said it planned to begin bringing more students back to campus at this point in the semester. Meanwhile, administrators around the country are reporting concern with students not following social distancing guidelines and continuing to have parties and meet in large groups. UA President Robert Robbins said these choices will soon "have consequences and there will be individuals who will be asked to leave the university.” Read on.

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