Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 15, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

Will Halloween Be Cancelled?

It may be only September, but in many stores across the country, Halloween candy is already appearing on grocery store shelves. No one knows what Halloween might look like during this pandemic. Local communities and parents will decide if Halloween festivities will be allowed to take place. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently issued official guidance on the topic, which might prove useful for other cities and counties that are still trying to put together a Halloween plan.

Los Angeles County health authorities have softened their stance since their initial announcement. They currently do not recommend trick-or-treating but they have not put a blanket ban on the practice. Even so, families should think very carefully about following this tradition this year, because it’s almost impossible to ring doorbells and exchange candy while maintaining appropriate social distancing guidelines. There is also no guarantee that everyone will be properly masked, or that the candy being passed back and forth is safe.

So what can you do as an alternative? Los Angeles County health officials suggest activities that allow for safe social distancing, such as neighborhood yard decoration contests, car parades, virtual costume parties, and other creative outdoor events that keep people properly distanced. But always remember to wear your mask: your costume’s mask alone isn’t enough.

What Do You Think? Come up with your own list of safe, socially-distanced Halloween activities for the month of October. Be creative!

Diversifying the Academy

Every year, the Academy Awards draws national attention for its Oscars, its star-studded red carpet event. More recently, the diversity issues of the movie industry has come under scrutiny. Until 2016, the demographic makeup of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself–the people selecting nominees for the Academy Awards–was 94 percent white and 86 percent people over fifty. For the first fifty years that the Oscars were awarded, only two African American actors won the award; in the 37 years after that, only eleven won, and only forty were nominated. (Not a single African American actor was nominated from 2014 to 2016).

In response to the criticism surrounding these facts, the Academy has taken steps to become more inclusive. Last Tuesday, the Academy announced some new diversity requirements. Beginning in 2024, in order to be eligible to win an Oscar for Best Picture, a film must meet certain diversity and inclusion thresholds in two out of the four following categories:

  • On-screen representation, themes, and narratives;
  • Creative leadership and project team;
  • Industry access and opportunities; and
  • Audience development.

Starting in 2022, films wishing to be considered must also complete a confidential “Academy Inclusion Standards” form. This is all part of the organization’s “Academy Aperture 2025” initiative, which was first announced in June 2020. The goal is for the awards to do a better job recognizing the importance of diversity both in who is making movies, and who is viewing them.

What Do You Think? What does the word “aperture” mean? Why do you think the Academy chose this term to describe its new initiative?

FEMA Stops Paying for Masks

To minimize risks for students attending school in person, school districts around the country are purchasing face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), purchasing additional cleaning and sanitation supplies, and in some cases, paying additional custodial staff to deep-clean buildings and equipment.

teacher and students wearing masks in school classroom
Wearing masks in school classrooms is a new part of the routine in 2020. Credit: izusek/E+/Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that beyond September 15, it will no longer help pay schools and local communities for the additional expense of buying PPE and other sanitation supplies. The agency changed the definition of what constitutes an emergency setting. FEMA only helps pay for safety precautions in emergency settings, and after September 15, that no longer includes schools, courthouses, and public housing. These purchases are now considered additional operating costs that aren’t eligible for funding assistance. (FEMA will continue to pay for sanitation and PPE for emergency settings, such as medical care.)

The announcement left teachers, administrators, and other state officials with many questions. For example, if there is a coronavirus outbreak at a school, will the school then qualify as an emergency setting? According to FEMA, the answer is still no: schools are no longer eligible for emergency funding.

FEMA officials insist that federal funding will still make its way to the schools, just through different channels. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide up to 125 million cloth face masks to schools.

What Do You Think? In your opinion, who should be responsible for paying for the supplies, equipment, and extra staff that schools require in order to reopen safely? Explain. As always, please remember to be respectful with your answer.

Interpreting Text Punctuation

Sometimes, texting can be tricky. Messages can be misinterpreted because interpreting tone can be difficult to do correctly. This is often especially true across generations and the way they use punctuation in texts. For many adults, it is more common to end a sentence with a period, even when writing a quick text. But to younger people, who less frequently use proper punctuation in texts, this punctuation might be misinterpreted.

Because text messages allow you to show the end of a thought by hitting “send” rather than with punctuation,  ending texts with a period can signal anger. This is especially true when you combine the period with a positive statement, such as “Good idea.”  Some adults may simply be offering a straightforward compliment, but a younger person might read the same statement as sarcasm.

Language is constantly changing and evolving, with new words and styles being introduced regularly. This is especially true in today’s technological age. Some adults can find it difficult to keep up with the acronyms and shorthand of texting. Unfortunately, one of the main drawbacks of texting as communication is that you aren’t having the conversation face-to-face, so the people talking can’t pick up on each other’s facial reactions and other body language. That makes it easy for even the most innocent statements to be misinterpreted.

What Do You Think? Describe a frustrating text exchange you’ve had in the past. What made the conversation so difficult? What do you think might have been a more effective communication strategy?