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Data from the government shows ethnic and geographic differences in school reopenings.

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Data from the government shows ethnic and geographic differences in school reopenings.
Data from the government shows ethnic and geographic differences in school reopenings.

Data from the government shows ethnic and geographic differences in school reopenings.

 

According to the findings of a national survey conducted by the Biden administration, nearly half of the nation’s elementary schools were open for full-time classroom learning as of last month, but the share of students learning in-person has varied greatly by area and ethnicity, with most nonwhite students learning entirely online.

The survey results, which were published on Wednesday, are the first step toward President Joe Biden’s goal of having most K-8 schools open full-time in his first 100 days in office. They also indicate that he never had to travel far to achieve his goal.

In February, 47 percent of schools enrolling fourth graders provided full-time classroom instruction, while 46 percent of schools instructing eighth graders did. According to the results, at least some students were not opting in.

According to the study, 76 percent of elementary and middle schools were open to in-person or hybrid instruction, while 24 percent only provided remote learning. Since February, when coronavirus rates were just coming down from a national boom, the percentage of students spending at least some time in the classroom has likely increased.

“The survey data are crucial for beginning to quantify and understand the pandemic’s effects on American students,” said Mark Schneider, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, the US Education Department’s research arm.

The administration intends to update the initial data set every month to demonstrate how many schools in the United States teach in-person, online, or a combination of both. Since the federal government had not previously collected data on the subject, it was difficult to monitor the progress of school reopenings.

The new results are focused on a study of 3,500 public schools with fourth-grade students, as well as 3,500 schools with eighth-grade students. Six states refused to participate, resulting in a total of 44 states agreeing to participate. As of February, the survey asked schools about their teaching strategies, but other data was collected in January.

The survey sheds new light on an especially contentious period in the school’s reopening process. In January, authorities in California, Chicago, and other cities were already at odds with teachers over reopening plans, with vaccinations often being cited as a stumbling block.

However, in many cases, the drive to reopen has gained traction since January. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a timeline for reopening, and this month, the department relaxed social distancing guidelines in schools. Hundreds of states are now focused on providing COVID-19 vaccinations to teachers and other school workers in response to Biden’s pressure.

According to a separate poll conducted by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Studies, as more schools welcome students back into the classroom, many parents are conflicted. A majority of parents are worried that in-person teaching will lead to more people being infected, but a slightly larger percentage are concerned that their children will experience academic failures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The recent federal survey not only monitors school teaching approaches, but also how many students have enrolled in each form of learning.

According to the study, 38 percent of fourth graders and 28 percent of eighth graders were engaged in full-time, in-person learning in January. More students were studying away from classes, with 43 percent of fourth graders and 48 percent of eighth graders doing so. It was unclear how many students chose to study online and how many were enrolled in schools with no in-person choices.

The regional wars that have played out as cities discuss how and when to reopen schools is reflected in the stark gaps between students based on where they live.

In January, just under 40% of eighth grade students in the South and Midwest, where schools were the quickest to reopen, were enrolled full-time in classroom instruction. In the West and Northeast, on the other hand, the figure was about 10%.

Students in rural areas and towns were much more likely than students in cities and suburbs to return to school full-time in all regions.

The survey found significant differences based on students’ ethnicity, highlighting the pandemic’s unequal effects. Nearly half of white fourth-graders were studying entirely in person, with just over a quarter learning entirely online. Nearly 60% of Black and Hispanic students, on the other hand, were studying entirely online.

The disparity was even more pronounced among students of Asian descent, with 68 percent attending entirely online and just 15 percent attending entirely in person.

Similar inequalities have been discovered in a number of towns, alarming education advocates who worry the pandemic would exacerbate racial inequities in education. The Biden administration has pledged to address racial disparities in education, and is encouraging schools to make it a priority as they invest more than $120 billion in newly funded relief funds.

According to the report, students with disabilities and those studying English were not being returned to class at substantially higher rates than other students as of January. In comparison to 38 percent of all students, only 42 percent of those with disabilities and 34 percent of those studying English were enrolled in full-time classroom learning.

Despite this, more than 40% of schools said in the survey that they were prioritizing students with disabilities, who have a harder time with remote learning.

According to the study, the amount of time spent with a live instructor differed greatly among students studying online. A third of the schools had more than five hours of live instruction per day, while the other third had two hours or less. Ten percent of eighth-grade schools did not have any live instruction at all.

High schools, which were not included in Biden’s reopening pledge and face new obstacles while they work to reopen, are not included in the survey. Younger children are less likely to become severely ill as a result of the coronavirus, and education experts believe they have the greatest need for face-to-face instruction.

The Education Department has stated that it will release updated survey data every month until July. The data is available on the agency’s website in the form of a dashboard.

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Rockies podcast: Colorado tries to play spoiler, lower minor-league teams find success and Trevor Story’s LoDo swan song

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Rockies podcast: Colorado tries to play spoiler, lower minor-league teams find success and Trevor Story’s LoDo swan song

In this packed edition of the On The Rox podcast, Denver Post sportswriters Kyle Newman and Patrick Saunders break down the final stretch of the Rockies’ 2021 season.

Can Colorado play spoiler against the Dodgers and Giants at Coors Field as those teams vie for the National League West crown? Plus, analysis on Trevor Story’s LoDo swan song, how the Rockies’ lower-level minor-league affiliates fared this year, breaking down the team’s recent road surge, Larry Walker’s number retirement this weekend and more analysis.

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Long hospital wait times impacting ambulance services

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Long hospital wait times impacting ambulance services

NORTH GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For those at North Greenbush Ambulance, they’ve been busier than ever.

“More people want to go to the hospital, and are going to the hospital,” explained Ryan French, North Greenbush Ambulance Director of Operations.

During the height of the pandemic, many were too afraid to go. Now that there are COVID vaccines, it’s thought that people are feeling more comfortable going in for medical treatment. While it’s important that people get the care they need, it’s causing some challenges for hospitals.

“The hospital wait times since the beginning of the summer have gone through the roof,” said French. “Instead of waiting, sometimes 5-10 minutes to get a room, it’s very often to find ourselves an hour or two hours waiting to get a hospital bed in the ER.”

According to St. Peter’s Health Partners, the pandemic has stressed heath care systems, impacting staffing levels. Emergency departments in particular are feeling the pressure, and higher patient volumes are likely a result of patients delaying care.

Despite the challenges, St. Peter’s says high quality care is still being provided. During wait times, French and his co-workers do their best to help patients.

“At some of the hospitals, we sit in the back of the ambulance with the patient for this hour or two hours, and we continue to treat the patient as appropriately as we can, and get them the help that they need,” explained French.

“The hospitals do the best of their ability to get them in as quickly as they possibly can.”

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Jeffco school board candidates look beyond COVID-19

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Jeffco school board candidates look beyond COVID-19

Despite protests and vocal backlash at school board meetings, Jeffco board candidates say they are focused on what comes after the COVID pandemic rather than current COVID-related issues.

Instead, the candidates are focused on improving academic performance, increasing mental health support and hiring and retaining quality teachers. Some candidates, however, believe removing mask mandates is part of improving mental health for students.

Seven candidates are running for three open positions on the five-seat Jeffco school board. The district is the second largest in Colorado with about 80,000 students.

The election has the potential to change the direction of the district. The majority of the current board includes members supportive of and endorsed by the teachers union. If critics of the district and the union win two of the three open seats, they would have the majority.

Read the full story from our partners at chalkbeat.org.

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit co.chalkbeat.org.

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CDC advisers try to work out the details on COVID-19 booster shots

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Top doctors say not so fast to Biden’s boosters-for-all plan

With booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine now authorized in the U.S., government advisers reconvened on Thursday to tackle the most contentious question yet: Exactly who should roll up their sleeves right away?

Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration signed off on extra shots of the Pfizer formula for a broad swath of Americans: those 65 and older, people at high risk of severe illness, and health care workers and others in danger of becoming infected on the job.

But that was not the last hurdle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets final U.S. policy on who qualifies for the extra shot. And the CDC’s advisers were set to vote Thursday on how many of the roughly 26 million Americans who had their last Pfizer shot at least six months ago should go ahead and get that third dose.

The widespread dispensing of the boosters would represent an important new phase in the nation’s vaccination drive. Britain and Israel are already rolling out a third round of shots over strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries don’t have enough for their initial doses.

Whatever the decision from the CDC, millions more Americans still will face confusion — those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine rollout. The government still hasn’t considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether it’s safe or effective to mix-and-match and give those people a Pfizer shot.

The priority still is to vaccinate the unvaccinated. About 182 million Americans, or 55% of the population, are fully vaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. still offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death, but immunity against milder infection appears to be waning months after people’s initial vaccination.

The FDA rejected a sweeping Biden administration plan announced a month ago to offer boosters to the general population, instead embracing a more targeted approach for now. Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock cautioned that booster decisions could very well change as real-world data come in.

“As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed,” Woodcock said.

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Fall foliage update: Peak #Fallorado is coming soon in northern Colorado

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PHOTOS: Fall colors start to pop around Colorado

If you’re looking for a peak experience when it comes to fall foliage, the time to visit your favorite leaf-peeping spot in northern Colorado may come this weekend.

Grand County resident Leah Matamales says she believes the peak has arrived in the Fraser area where she lives, and should arrive soon where she works in Granby (15 miles northwest of Fraser and 600 feet lower in elevation). Steamboat Springs resident Caroline Lalive believes the peak there will arrive soon as well.

“Probably this whole next week will be our peak colors,” said Matamales, director of food and beverage at the Grand Elk Golf Club in Granby. “There’s not much green left. There’s a lot of yellow, and this year we’re seeing a lot more orange and red.”

Because overnight temperatures have been chilly lately, Matamales believes the peak may be short-lived this year.

“This is probably the last really good week before everything starts falling off the trees, would be my guess,” said Matamales, a 16-year resident of the area.

Photos taken on Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs on Wednesday show a riot of yellow, but a few aspen still have light green leaves.

“I would definitely say through this week, the weekend and early next week you’ll start to see the peak here for sure,” Lalive said.

Like many mountain locations in the northern part of the state, Steamboat got a dusting of snow Monday morning, with the upper portions of the Steamboat ski area receiving 3-4 inches.

Provided by Caroline Lalive

Fall colors in the Steamboat area — including the ferns along this mountain biking trail — are really starting to pop. Caroline Lalive, a 26-year resident of Steamboat Springs, predicts the peak of fall color there will come early next week. The bike rider is her husband, former Olympic skier Nelson Carmichael, the 1992 bronze medalist in moguls. Lalive was an Olympic alpine racer.

“You look up and see the aspens changing, and with that bit of snow, that’s always such a beautiful contrast,” said Lalive, who has lived in Steamboat for 26 years. “Up high there’s some nice troves of aspens changing, and the undergrowth — the ferns and scrub oak and all of that — is definitely changing. Those are always really cool because the scrub oaks are red and the aspens are yellow.”

At midweek in Vail, three locals we contacted agreed that aspen stands there were still about half green and half yellow. But Jen Mason, executive director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum and a lifelong Vail resident, suspects this weekend and next will be prime for leaf-peeping in that part of the state.

“The height could be Wednesday of next week, but I think this weekend and next weekend are going to be the two prime weekends,” Mason said Wednesday. “Right now we’re like half green, half yellow, but you wake up and all of a sudden the half green, half yellow — those things turn overnight. It can change in two days.”

Members of a Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook group have been posting beautiful fall colors photos, with one woman describing her trip up Old Fall River Road last weekend as “spectacular,” but apparently the peak is a while off.

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Nanda: The Taliban must earn recognition by respecting human rights

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Nanda: The Taliban must earn recognition by respecting human rights

How will countries respond to the Taliban’s call for international recognition as a lawful government of Afghanistan? It depends on whether the Taliban’s actions start to match the commitments it made of forming an inclusive government, guaranteeing to stop foreign militant groups, including al-Qaeda, from using Afghan territory against the U.S. and its allies, and protecting human rights of all Afghans, especially girls and women.

Defending several new appointments to the all-male interim cabinet announced on September 7, spokesman Zabirhullah Mujahid said, “It is the responsibility of the United Nations to recognize our government [and] for other countries, including European, Asian, and Islamic countries, to have diplomatic relations with us.” Some new cabinet members are from ethnic minorities – Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks – but there are no women. Most are Taliban loyalists and hardliners, and several are on the U.N. sanctions list. Elections were not mentioned.

Since the Taliban took over on August 15, several NGOs have documented the Taliban’s human rights abuses, which include reprisal attacks and targeted killing of civilians, especially human rights defenders, and Afghan soldiers who had surrendered.

Although the government had promised to protect the human rights of women, many Afghan women are so afraid that they don’t leave their homes without a male guardian. And their protests in many cities have met with violent crackdowns and beatings.

Although boys can go to schools up to secondary level, girls are permitted only up to sixth grade. A Taliban spokesman said that “a safe learning environment” was needed before girls can return to secondary school. He said that the Taliban were “finalizing things” to allow girls back in school. New rules for education, such as girls and women can only be taught by female teachers, or, if there are not enough females, then by older, “pious” men. Women can study only in gender-segregated universities.

The fear that the Taliban would restrict women’s rights is coming to pass. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is now the “Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.” Twenty years of reforms and progress are being erased. Uncertainty remains whether women may be allowed to work and under what conditions.

In international law, each government has complete discretion as a political matter whether to recognize a new government, especially one that comes to power through the use of force. Restrictions on women and their exclusion from the government will certainly be a major hindrance for the international recognition sought by the Taliban.

The United States, for example, did not recognize the Communist governments of China and the Soviet Union for decades, notwithstanding their effective control over their territories. Along with effective control, legitimacy is another consideration countries take into account. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, only three governments – Pakistan, the U.A.E., and Saudi Arabia – recognized it. This time around, even Pakistan and China – both of which have welcomed the Taliban’s takeover – seem to be in no hurry to grant recognition.

The U.N. is not in the business of recognizing governments. Rather, the question is who represents a country? On September 20, Afghanistan’s new rulers sent a communication to the Secretary-General, António Guterres, with the letterhead “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” signed by Ameer Khan Muttaqi as Minister of Foreign Affairs, requesting to address the General Assembly High Level Leaders Week, the yearly gathering in session September 21-27. Five days earlier, on September 15, the currently accredited Afghan Ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, sent to the Secretary-General a list of Afghanistan’s delegation. After due deliberations, the General Assembly’s nine-member credentials committee will determine who represents the country. And this will take time.

As the Taliban seek international recognition, they should get a clear message that, as a prerequisite, they must respect and protect human rights of all, especially girls and women, that they must prevent foreign militant groups from using Afghan soil against other countries, and that human rights defenders, humanitarian aid workers, and other at-risk people must be provided safe passage and evacuation without interference.

Ved Nanda is a distinguished university professor and director of the Ved Nanda Center for International Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His column appears the last Sunday of each month and he welcomes comments at [email protected]

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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8 new COVID cases in Albany CSD

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8 new COVID cases in Albany CSD

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany City School District has reported eight new cases of the coronavirus.

Two cases are associated with a prekindergarten classroom at Delaware Community School. Two cases are associated with North Albany Middle School. One involves the sixth grade. The second case involves the eighth grade. 

Two cases are associated with the seventh grade at William S. Hackett Middle School. Another case is associated with the ninth grade at Albany High School. And the final case is associated with the sophomore class at Tony Clement Center for Education. 

In each case, the person who has tested positive and any associated contacts are quarantining at home.

The district is continuing with safety procedures, including cleaning and sanitizing the school buildings every night.

Learn more at the district’s website.

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Beavers in a brook: Conn. homeowner says beaver dam caused his yard to flood, house to sink

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Beavers in a brook: Conn. homeowner says beaver dam caused his yard to flood, house to sink

OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — A homeowner in Old Lyme, Conn., says his property is now more marsh than yard because a beaver dam is blocking a nearby brook.

Dave Berggren says he is worried he will lose his house because of beavers on the other end of his pond.

RELATED: Old Lyme resident blames beavers for flooded yard near lake

“I’ve jacked it up and wedged it,” said Berggren of his house on Black Hall Pond. “See the pieces of wood I’ve put in.”

Not a lot has changed since we first went to his Old Lyme home a few years ago.

“This was all lawn,” said Berggren who showed News 8 how that lawn is now a marsh.

His property is still flooded and his home is still compromised. He says it’s sinking more and more into the ground and has structural damage.

“How about sick to your stomach,” said Berggren. Wednesday he showed us the cause of the problem. A beaver dam in a brook at the other end of the pond.

“This is what I’ve pulled out over the years,” said Berggren pointing to a huge pile of tree branches.

In addition to the branches the beavers have used to continually rebuild the dam, there is now a fallen tree that has added to the blockage.

“This is normally a full-blooded running stream,” said Berggren.

He was hoping a state statute which says the town …shall have authority to remove or cause to be removed any such debris, wreckage or other similar material and to assess the cost of such removal… “ to the property owner would have led the town to remove the dam but that hasn’t happened yet.

“The rodents have more rights than I do? I haven’t noticed them paying their taxes so something’s wrong with this picture, too,” said Berggren.

News 8 reached out to Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold Wednesday who, back in January 2020, told us… “If personal property is being negatively affected we want that corrected.”

“He’s never even come here,” said Berggren.

If he did, he may see water flowing over the retaining wall. It used to sit two feet below it.

For now, Berggren hopes for help so his waterfront property is no longer waterlogged.

“It’s never-ending,” said Berggren.

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Planning in a pandemic

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Planning in a pandemic

(NEWS10) — It was a summer full of “what-ifs.” Superintendents, like Bruce Potter in Mechanicville, struggled to find direction ahead of another academic year under the shadow of a pandemic. We tagged along with Potter over the last few weeks of August while he developed his plan to bring students back full-time, safely.

“We base decisions on prior experience. There had been plenty of guidance coming all along, so we anticipated that to continue,” Potter told us last month.

On August 19 the district’s physician, Dr. Carl Sgambati, in consultation with Saratoga County Public Health Services, told us mask-wearing would be determined by community spread and positivity rates.

Dr. Sgambati said, “Are we in a low-level threshold infectivity rate, or are we higher along that framework. The higher along that framework we go the more mandatory we will have to make things.”

The next day, August 20, three weeks out from the start of the school year, and Potter presents the full, in-person reopening plan to his faculty and staff.

“This plan is our best attempt to strike a balance between keeping our students and staff physically safe from COVID while providing a school environment, which promotes normalcy,” Potter said during his virtual meeting.

Things would change, just four days later, when the Hochul administration began.

“I’m also immediately directing the Department of Health (DOH) to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools,” Governor Hochul said during her inaugural remarks on August 24.

The Mechanicville Community got a chance to respond to the district’s plan a day after Hochul’s inauguration during a special meeting of the city’s school board on the 25.

“I really hope that the mask mandate goes into effect. I’m just nervous about if that’s going to happen or not. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” pre-k parent Meaghan Amann said.

Debbie Derby, who has grandchildren in the district, said, “I can see it on the bus. I don’t think they should have to wear them in class.”

With its own plan already in place and the new mask mandate now coming from the Hochul administration, Mechanicville’s elementary teachers began greeting students the week before opening day.

Planning in a pandemic

“It’s incredibly important to have students in the classroom, at all ages, but especially the younger kids. To make those personal connections and to make it an authentic teaching experience for them,” said first-grade teacher Melissa Salvadore.

Jacey LaShomb, a second-grade teacher in Mechanicville, said, “Totally, totally excited. I can’t wait. I love my friends in here. If they’re here, in masks, and we still get to do what we have to do, I’m happy.” 

On Wednesday, September 8, the first day of school, Potter is out in front of the elementary school greeting students as they step off the bus.

1632413126 275 Planning in a pandemic

“It feels wonderful. We just had a successful drop-off and arrival for the junior/senior high school and we’re incredibly excited to welcome our youngest learners to school. Everybody’s ready to be back,” Potter said.

Principal Chris Turcio said, “We’ve got people waiting at the door. This didn’t happen last year. I’m a little nervous when we open the doors, but I’ll be making an announcement, thank you families we’ve got it from here. I thank the community for putting their trust in us to keep their kids safe and give them the best education possible despite all of the odds.”

Per the state DOH, universal masking is in place until further notice. Unvaccinated faculty and staff will undergo mandatory COVID testing weekly. All protocols will be revisited in 90 days to determine if any modifications need to be made.

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Case against stepmother charged with murder of Gannon Stauch can proceed, judge rules

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Case against stepmother charged with murder of Gannon Stauch can proceed, judge rules

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children via AP

Gannon Stauch

The murder case against Letecia Stauch in the death of her 11-year-old stepson will move forward, an El Paso County District Court judge ruled Thursday.

District Judge Gregory Werner found sufficient probable cause after listening to testimony during a preliminary hearing earlier this month for Stauch, 38, who is accused of killing Gannon Stauch in January 2020, while the two were home alone.

The boy disappeared Jan. 27, 2020, and his stepmother was charged with first-degree murder on March 2, 2020. Gannon’s body was found under a bridge in Florida on March 17, 2020. He had been shot and stabbed, then put into a suitcase and thrown off an overpass near Pensacola.

During Letecia Stauch’s preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Letecia Stauch killed Gannon in his bedroom, then initially dumped his body near Colorado 105 and South Perry Park Road before renting a van and driving with her teenage daughter from Colorado to Pensacola.

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