Virtual School Meanderings

April 6, 2020

Answering Kids’ COVID-19 Questions, Autism Month: The Student-Initiated Disability Elective, Supporting Children Learning From Home: Your TUC Update

An item from my own institution this past week.  Full disclosure I was the author of the second item.

April 5, 2020

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst, the alert for virtual schools, which did not have any relevant items.

Next, the alert for cyber schools, which also did not have any relevant items.

Finally, the alert for K-12 online learning, which I also received, but did not include any relevant items.

So nothing to report this week.

April 4, 2020

Virtual Schooling In The News

InTheNewsBeginning with EdSource Today.

Thousands of Los Angeles high school students are not accessing online learning during school closures
By Michael Burke, EdSourceOn any given day, one-third of high schoolers in L.A. Unified have not been participating in online classes during the coronavirus pandemic.Read more
California schools chief recommends that schools prepare for distance learning for rest of school year
By Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald, EdSourceState Superintendent of Public Instruction stresses that school is not actually over, but that emphasis must be on providing education through distance learning.Read more
First few weeks of remote teaching is learning experience for teachers and students
By Diana Lambert, EdSourceCalifornia teachers have had to be creative to keep students learning after campuses shut down in March. Read more

Next, the eLearning Insider.

Senators Raise Concerns Over Data Privacy as K-12 Learning Goes Online
Three democratic senators—Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut—sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Education (DoE) on March 24. They ask for cybersecurity and online privacy guidance as the outbreak of COVID pushes more classes online.

There are roughly 56.6 million American students currently studying in grades K-12. With statewide school closures now in effect every state except for Maine, Nebraska, and Iowa, the vast majority of these learners are currently using education technology to learn from home.

Read More

Moving on to the EdClips.


As Schools Close to Coronavirus, Special Educators Turn to Tele-Therapy

As students with learning disabilities enter distance learning environments, a tangled patchwork of state regulations, a lack of therapist training, and limited access to high-speed internet threatens to limit their access to key services that help them speak, move, and acquire skills for daily living.  | Education Week, April 1

Learn More

Connecting Students to Mental Health Care Through Telehealth Technology


Can Hands-On Career and Tech Programs Go Online During School Shutdowns?

How do you teach welding virtually? As the coronavirus spreads, colleges are trying to figure out that and more on the fly. | The Hechinger Report, March 31

Learn More

Key Issue: Workforce Development


State’s Public Television Network Offered as Learning Platform to PA Schools

The state’s seven public television stations have essentially turned over their program day to education-focused content for what amounts to two school days in one. | Penn Live, April 1

Next, the different offerings from eSchool News.

Latest Stories

3 ways tech increased our resiliency to the coronavirus

As this Ohio district moved quickly to meet the needs of its students, administrators couldn’t ignore the digital divide.

3 considerations for remote learning

As a pandemic forces students to stay home, educators are doing their best to quickly transition to remote learning.

7 keys to effective online learning

High-quality and engaging online learning programs have a number of common characteristics.

Online learning is helping students pursue their passions

Here are 5 reasons schools should add online learning to their curriculum offerings.

Similarly, the various newsletters from Education Week.

The Scramble to Move America's Schools OnlineThe Scramble to Move America’s Schools Online

Already in crisis mode, K-12 schools must now figure out how to educate tens of millions of children stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.
States’ E-Learning Directives Pivot for the Long Haul

States are adjusting the policies and strategies designed for short- term remote instruction-like snow day plans-to support students for the rest of the school year. Read more.
E-Learning Overload: 8 Tips Educators Can Give Frustrated, Anxious Parents

Many parents are having to take on a variety of new roles, from playing IT help desk to becoming makeshift teaching assistants to supervising recess. Read more.
Virtual Education Dilemma: Scheduled Classroom Instruction vs. Anytime LearningVirtual Education Dilemma: Scheduled Classroom Instruction vs. Anytime Learning

K-12 teachers are faced with a question many likely thought they’d never have to ask: How often during the school day do my students need to see me and when? Read more.
For Better or Worse, Coronavirus Puts Cyber Charters in the SpotlightFor Better or Worse, Coronavirus Puts Cyber Charters in the Spotlight

Virtual charters represent an imperfect model for the kind of remote learning school districts should be providing during school shutdowns, some experts argue. Read more.
Coronavirus Squeezes Supply of Chromebooks, iPads, and Other Digital Learning DevicesCoronavirus Squeezes Supply of Chromebooks, iPads, and Other Digital Learning Devices

School districts are competing against each other for purchases of digital devices as remote learning expands to schools across the country. Read more.
How Much Home Teaching Is Too Much? Schools Differ in Demands on ParentsHow Much Home Teaching Is Too Much? Schools Differ in Demands on Parents
While schools are closed to coronavirus, districts are putting together a patchwork of lessons for students to do at home. But districts’ expectations for what students can accomplish at home vary widely, according to parents. Read more.
As Schools Close to Coronavirus, Special Educators Turn to Tele-Therapy

How can you keep occupational or speech therapy going online? Schools struggle to figure that out. Read more.

WATCH: What It’s Really Like for Homeschooling During Coronavirus

Coronavirus has shut down schools across the country, forcing millions of students to learn at home. In this video, families from Seattle to Maine describe how they are adjusting to this new reality. Read more.


This Is Emergency Remote Teaching, Not Just Online TeachingThis Is Emergency Remote Teaching, Not Just Online Teaching

There’s a difference, writes online professor Natalie B. Milman. Here’s what you should know about emergency remote teaching and learning. Read more.

The semi-regular ASCD SmartBrief.

Chicago students adjust to online learning

Chicago students adjust to online learning

Some students in the Chicago Public Schools system have expressed frustration with remote-learning efforts since schools closed because of the pandemic. While schools vary widely in expectations and rigor of lessons, students say their frustrations include a lack of interaction with teachers and peers as well as lack of visual aspects of instruction.

Full Story: Chicago Sun-Times (tiered subscription model) (3/26)


Mass.: Students with disabilities must have remote lessons

Public schools in Massachusetts need to start teaching students with disabilities remotely now due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Thursday. Schools must provide either “supports and resources” or “instruction and services” as soon as possible.

Full Story: WBUR-FM (Boston) (3/26)

Is it legal to read a book to students online?

Is it legal to read a book to students online?

The sudden shift to online instruction has many teachers using digital platforms to read aloud to students, but is the practice legal? In most cases, it is allowed under fair-use statutes, but there are a few instances when teachers should consider potential copyright complications, such as establishing a free YouTube channel for reading aloud when that reading is not directly related to instruction.

Full Story: EdSurge (3/30)


Teachers in Md. district prepare to teach online
Teachers in Md. district prepare to teach online

Montgomery County schools in Maryland are preparing to start teaching remotely, loaning upwards of 40,000 laptops to students and readying coursework for at least a month. Teacher Neha Singhal’s anthropology class is working on an ethnographic project on the societal effects of the coronavirus and will incorporate the pandemic topic into her government class, while also keeping in mind the struggles facing students.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (3/30)


Band directors create virtual concert for students

Band directors create virtual concert for students

Band directors from Desert Ridge Middle School and Eisenhower Middle School in Albuquerque, N.M., had students record individual parts to the same song and then combined them for a virtual concert. The directors plan to continue this method to allow students to practice together.

Full Story: KRQE-TV (Albuquerque, N.M.) (3/26)


Remote-learning transition reveals 3 concerns

Remote-learning transition reveals 3 concerns

The rapid shift to remote learning has revealed three key concerns that need to be resolved, writes Torrey Trust, an associate professor of learning technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In this commentary, she shares concerns over accessibility, the digital divide as well as privacy and student data.

Full Story: EdSurge (4/2)


Minn. students see pros, cons of remote classes

Students at a St. Paul, Minn., high school say they miss their friends after two weeks of online school, but they like the looser schedules and later start times. Teachers have been finding ways to bring students together using Google Hangouts and Google Meet.

Full Story: Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) (tiered subscription model) (4/1)

Other News:

Similarly, the SmartBrief for EdTech.

DeVos: Microgrants could support remote learning

DeVos: Microgrants could support remote learning
DeVos (Jim Watson/Getty Images)

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday said she would like Congress to fund microgrants to support teachers and students who are learning remotely amid prolonged school closures. A Department of Education spokesperson said later that eligible students would be from schools that are closed for more than 30 days, qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or an individualized education program.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (3/30)


How CTOs can support shift to remote learning

How CTOs can support shift to remote learning

The coronavirus public health emergency has forced many school districts to rapidly deploy remote learning and chief technology officers can help support the transition, writes Eujon Anderson, technology director for Troy City Schools in Troy, Ala. He offers suggestions such as creating a website for e-learning and communication, using collaborative tools and using video conferencing.

Full Story: District Administration magazine online (3/27)

Experts: Smartphones insufficient for online learning

Experts: Smartphones insufficient for online learning
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Smartphones are not adequate substitutes for laptops and wired desktop devices, according to research from Michigan State University’s Quello Center for the study of public policy. Students who rely on cell phones for learning fare the same or worse on assessments than those with no connectivity, the research finds.

Full Story: District Administration magazine online (4/1)


How remote learning affects special education

The transition to remote learning has been challenging for the roughly 7 million students in the US who receive special education services. Some schools have resisted moving special education online, while others are adopting video conferencing and working with small groups for services or training parents to offer support.

Full Story: The Associated Press (3/31)

Free tools that support virtual learning

Free tools that support virtual learning
(Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images)

Teachers nationwide have made a rapid shift to remote instruction and this blog post offers a listing of free tools and resources to help with the transition. The list includes tools to support virtual lessons in math and English, as well as resources for students with special needs and more.

Full Story: SmartBrief/Education (4/2)


STEM teacher uses online tools for “quaranteaching”

STEM teacher uses online tools for "quaranteaching"

Wisconsin middle-school STEM teacher Maggie McHugh is getting creative as she adjusts to “quaranteaching” students who are isolated at home. McHugh says she leads weekly meetings using Google Voice and check-ins with Google Chat and email, and has assigned tasks such as making graphs of local coronavirus cases and building objects in Minecraft.

Full Story: La Crosse Tribune (Wis.) (4/1)


US proposes flexibility for distance learning

The US Department of Education on Wednesday proposed rules to grant more flexibility for distance learning. There will be a 30-day window to comment on the rules, and final regulations are expected in November.

Full Story: Education Dive (4/1)

What are the benefits of virtual teacher recruiting?

Virtual recruiting provides obvious benefits such as not having to travel, and it also allows one-on-one interviews that give a better picture of a candidate’s personality and in which school they would best fit, says Jolie Hardin of Henry County Schools in Georgia. Donna Glassman-Sommer of the California Center on Teaching Careers, says virtual interviews also allow school leaders to gauge a candidate’s comfort with online learning.

Full Story: Education Dive (4/2)

Other News:

Back to the regular Google News alert for virtual school.

Ontario Virtual School Launches Free High School Prep Curriculum; ‘High School: 101’ Introduced …

TORONTO, March 26, 2020 /CNW/ – Ontario Virtual School (OVS), a leading online education provider, announced the launch and free registration of its …

Show Me Kindness: Connecting through virtual school lunches

Show Me Kindness: Connecting through virtual school lunches. Here are a few ways people in the St. Louis area area sharing kindness …

Bradley County Virtual School HONOR ROLL

Bradley County Virtual School honor rolls have been released. GOLD HONOR ROLL. Kayleigh Shoemate, Conner Spencer and Shaylee Weatherford …

Virtual School Activities to Keep South Plainfield Students Engaged and Learning

Virtual School Activities to Keep South Plainfield Students Engaged and Learning. By VICTORIA CARUSO. March 25, 2020 at 1:00 AM. AddThis …

The Biggest Distance-Learning Experiment In History: Week One

Florida Virtual School does something similar with what it calls its “high teacher touch” approach. Assignments are designed to be completed on …

‘Virtual events’ set to engage children during school closures

… popular competitions are set to continue at home – thanks to the launch of new virtual school games. Since launching two-and-a-half years ago the …

Coronavirus: For some Louisiana students, virtual school was the norm before COVID-19

… brick-and-mortar school, but it’s online and the student is at home,” said Maryanne Smith, who is in her second year teaching with the virtual school.

With Schools Closed, Kids With Disabilities Are More Vulnerable Than Ever

Lessons from a virtual school. There are schools with extensive experience teaching online, including a number of virtual charter schools. “All of our …

Marcus Clarke waiting on virtual school, hopes to be all set for Summer A

Marcus Clarke waiting on virtual school, hopes to be all set for Summer A. Matt Shodell • CaneSport. Managing Editor. @canesport. Winter Park (Fla.) …

‘Uncharted waters’: Ontario’s school boards directed to roll out distance learning amid pandemic

In the case of students where technological challenges would make virtual school impossible, assignments will be provided through other, …

Brooklyn to hold virtual school spirit week

Brooklyn to hold virtual school spirit week. Upcoming Events. By Stephen Beale, For The Bulletin. Saturday. Posted Mar 28, 2020 at 3:48 PM Updated …

Viera Charter School Teachers Have Students Back On Track With Virtual Learning During COVID …

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Children at Viera Charter School started back to school the day after spring break Tuesday, March 24, …

Mumbai: CBSE seeks, gets American School’s virtual content

Now in its second week, the virtual school has its elementary, middle and high school back on its feet with faculty posting lectures, teacher assistants …

Virtual Schools Market is Dazzling Worldwide | K12, Alaska, Abbotsford

Some of the key players profiled in the study are K12 Inc, Connections Academy, Mosaica Education, Pansophic Learning, Florida Virtual School …

Court hearing delayed in State Auditor’s quest for records of Epic Charter Schools spending

Oct. 16, 2019: Six Oklahoma City-area parents suing Epic Charter Schools say the virtual school violated the state Constitution when it unenrolled their …

Coronavirus changes education ‘forever’ in Volusia, Flagler counties

“As awful as this pandemic is, I really believe it will change education forever,” Volusia County Superintendent Scott Fritz said at a virtual School Board …

J. Wallace James school spirit alive and well during coronavirus closure

This week he encouraged families to celebrate a virtual school spirit week, with activities inspired by the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Success!

How a private school on Spain’s Costa del Sol still provides top level education for its students …

… School’s innovative approach to learning, which means the transition to a virtual school was made simpler for both students and teachers.” But how …

Georgia schools given more freedom to respond to pandemic

Georgia Virtual School Funding and Tuition: O.C.G.A §20-2-319.1(b)(2). Flexibility will allow districts to enroll a class of students in a moderated, …

Lake teacher: Parents should feel confident with distance-learning

… who both recently transferred to Lake County Virtual School. She said they both figured it out far quicker than she could have. What will be important, …

Course registration for the Alaska Statewide Virtual School is open

“We must not let a virus keep our students from becoming all they are meant to be. The launch of the Alaska Statewide Virtual School is evidence of …

Florida Virtual School offers free digital classes to students

Florida Virtual School says it could provide online courses to up to 2.7 million students by early May.

American School of Bombay, India, Opens up its Virtual Learning Resources to Schools During the …

We committed ourselves to make the virtual school super-engaging and fun and invested a lot in developing outstanding content. Our three-campus …

In the ‘cloud’: Virtual school board meeting ‘new way of doing things’

In the ‘cloud’: Virtual school board meeting ‘new way of doing things’. Education. Mar 31, 2020. Brian Ferry. Staff Reporter.

Outages Reported as Manatee Co. Kicks Off Virtual School

Kicks Off Virtual School. By Angie Angers Manatee County PUBLISHED 5:28 PM ET Mar. 30, 2020 PUBLISHED March 30, 2020 @5:28 PM. SHARE.

Bedfordshire Fire Service create ‘virtual school visit’

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have made a ‘virtual school visit’ suitable for young primary school children across the county. Firefighters from …

Distance learning: Online education classes for every age and grade

Varsity Tutors is offering a free program called Virtual School Day, which includes live, online classes and educational resources for K-12 students.

Take your children on a virtual ‘school trip’ – to Cannon Hall Farm in South Yorkshire

Take your children on a virtual ‘school trip’ – to Cannon Hall Farm in South Yorkshire. Have your little ones ever fancied learning all about Shire …

Virtual school solution powered by Next Education’s Learning Platform is the key to continuous …

Virtual school solution powered by Next Education’s Learning Platform is the key to continuous learning amid COVID-19. Published on March 31, …

St. Johns County students, parents navigate new challenges of virtual learning

As expected, there were growing pains in St. Johns County on the first day of the new virtual school year. The online learning system, Schoology, …

Parent asks for virtual school day

Kelly said virtual school committee meetings have been held. He said he does not see why that can’t be done for classes. The Somerset Berkley …

Florida Virtual School Beefing Up Capacity To Serve 2.7 Million Students, Amid COVID-19 Closures

Florida Virtual School is increasing its capacity for students, preparing for an influx of more than 2 million amid COVID-19 school district closures.

North Florida School of Special Education students adapting to virtual school

North Florida School of Special Education students adapting to virtual school. From music classes to gardening classes, NFSSE is now teaching its …

Varsity Tutors offers Virtual School Day and free online classes

Varsity Tutors offers Virtual School Day and free online classes. AM Show. by: Margie Ellisor. Posted: Apr 1, 2020 / 09:13 AM CDT / Updated: Apr 1, …

A virtual school solution for continuous learning amid COVID-19

A virtual school solution for continuous learning amid COVID-19. Posted by Mohammed Hussain Published: April 01, 2020, 5:54 pm IST.

Emergency services launch virtual ‘school visits’ to educate kids

The Fire Service and Essex Police have launched an online education resource to enable them to continue delivering safety lessons to children while …

Cambridge MP to host virtual school assembly

Daniel Zeichner will be holding a virtual school assembly this Friday (April 3). The Cambridge MP visits a school in the city most weeks to take …

Parents should be active in school district’s new virtual learning plan

… of parents to have a cooperative relationship with the teachers as they navigate the virtual school halls. Parents, you shouldn’t need to be reminded, …

School Buses to Serve as Roaming Wifi Hotspots for Students

What’s the use of virtual school if you can’t get online? That is the question that school leaders in Manatee County have been racing to answer.

Harry Potter fans can now enroll in a virtual Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

The virtual school is close enough for me! There’s also an RPG (role-playing game) aspect of the virtual world. Fans can dive deep into the classes to …

State extends business closures indefinitely, announces virtual school

State extends business closures indefinitely, announces virtual school. Bar, restraurants to remain closed until further notice. by Peter Segall …

Virtual School, Annie Wright Style

The goal for virtual school content is 1-2 hours per day for Preschool-Grade 2, 2-3 hours for Grades 3-5, and 4 hours for Grades 6-12. Some online …

A virtual school fire drill during distance learning? Willmar Senior High tried it Wednesday. Yup, it …

A virtual school fire drill during distance learning? Willmar Senior High tried it Wednesday. Yup, it was April 1. With so many things in people’s lives now …

Alaska Education Commissioner announces Alaska Statewide Virtual School

On Wednesday, Johnson announced the rollout of the Alaska statewide virtual school, which he stressed was not a new concept and had been …

Chromebooks, Zoom and YouTube: Shasta educators cramming for virtual school amid COVID-19

Chromebooks, Zoom and YouTube: Shasta educators cramming for virtual school amid COVID-19. Shasta County’s K-12 educators can finish out the …

Qatar- Compass International School launches ‘Nord Anglia Virtual School Experience’

Through the Nord Anglia Virtual School Experience, Compass students continue to receive a high quality, age-appropriate education from Compass’ …

Spirit Week still on for Toy Town school

Memorial School Principal Michelle Atter said the decision to go ahead with Virtual School Spirit Week was made after consultation with her …

Prince William orders 15500 laptops for students, outlines remote education plan

… as Walts laid out his plan for how the school system will address the coronavirus pandemic at an emergency virtual school board meeting on April 1.

Teachers tackle virtual learning in Florida

With the transition to virtual school, Gov,Desantis said that all students would be automatically passed to the next grade and parents would have the …

Chambers School District announces rest of year plans

Any student who has been in Virtual School or who is enrolled in an ACCESS course (including seniors) must log in and complete those courses in …

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Cyber schools lend helping hand to brick-and-mortar districts to keep students engaged

… the organization has also provided an online survey district leaders can take to pair them with the best cyber school experts that match their needs.

Daily Briefing

This team wants to teach your kids cybersecurity while they’re home from school (CyberScoop) The virtual “Cyber School,” plans to host livestreams …

Coronavirus pandemic threatens Scranton School District’s financial recovery

… or an increase in families seeking cyber school options. Scranton School Board President Katie Gilmartin said she is “absolutely certain” the coming …

AIU Forum Targets School Funding Reforms

They claim the cap on cyber school tuition would save taxpayers $280 million per year. The General Assembly and Senate are both controlled by the ..

With school called off indefinitely in PA, how can parents help their children?

Pollack’s 11-year-old son, Henry, is a student at PA Virtual Cyber School. Many districts are working to give students education opportunities while …

STAYING HOME, STAYING SAFE: How area residents are coping with social distancing

Morgan’s cyber school through DCC started last week. “I’m taking an approach to use any extra time beyond her classwork and my work to make …

The security picture for Zoom

… home a break next week when it launches a virtual “Cyber School” for kids with livestream conversations about hacking, coding and other topics.

Alicia Santi: Charter schools under attack

Like the experiences of many others who have found that the public cyber school option works best for their child, my son would easily get distracted …

Schools must create remote education plans. Here’s what that means for Lansing students.

Eaton Rapids schools partner with a cyber school providing about 100 internet hotspots, he said. Couple those with Chromebooks the school district …

Shot and surviving: How the invisible impact of gun violence can shape teens’ lives forever

The cyber school Bowen was enrolled in offered in-person events for all its students in the Philadelphia area, and she did not intend to miss her senior …

April 2, 2020

News Item – A Mother’s Open Letter To Schools

There is some important guidance in this letter for all teachers facing school closures and remote teaching situations.

A mother’s open letter to schools

By Anne Conrad

Updated: March 30, 2020 11:47 AM CT | Published: March 30, 2020 4:00 AM CT GUEST COLUMNIST

Now is not the time to be obsessing over grades. Haven’t we put our kids through enough already?

For years, we’ve asked them to study harder, learn more, be better, don’t fail. Competition has reigned as king in an environment focused on test scores, extracurriculars and athletics. And what do we have to show for it? A nation of anxiety-laden teens who are over-medicated, stressed out, and on the brink.

Now as we face a coronavirus pandemic is not the time to push them over the edge.Mandated quarantines aren’t vacations or holidays for our children. Our kids aren’t at home living carefree lives full of frivolity and fun. Our children are at home facing grim realities: fear of contracting the virus; close quarters with elderly relatives whom we’re now responsible for; financial uncertainty for their parents; loss of personal contact with friends; uncertainty that there will ever be a future. The list is endless.
Anne Conrad

To continue reading, click here.

April 1, 2020

Global News: Nova Scotia Schools To Be Closed Until May 1

This news scrolled through my inbox yesterday.

Nova Scotia schools to be closed until May 1

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil makes an announcement in Halifax, Friday, Friday, Dec 20, 2019. Nova Scotia is requiring public sector workers and public school children who travel abroad to isolate themselves for two weeks when they return to Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil makes an announcement in Halifax, Friday, Friday, Dec 20, 2019. Nova Scotia is requiring public sector workers and public school children who travel abroad to isolate themselves for two weeks when they return to Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard.

Students in Nova Scotia won’t return to their schools until at least May 1 as announced by Premier Stephen McNeil Monday.

McNeil was providing a COVID-19 update when he advised of the extension that moves the proposed return date of April 6 back nearly a month.

The decision follows the advice of the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang and extends to licensed child care providers as well.

To continue reading, click here.

At this stage, I believe we have Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and now Nova Scotia that have formally announced some plans for providing either online materials for teachers and/or remote instruction.

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