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Insurance premiums could present hurdle in arming teachers



“We are making this underwriting decision simply to protect the financial security of our company,” they concluded.

But the desire to arm teachers remains.

After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, lawmakers in seven states quickly introduced bills that would legalize arming teachers. Yet of those, so far only Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has signed a bill that permits school districts to arm trained school workers with handguns.

The shooting also renewed the issue in Kansas, where the statehouse is debating a new law that would make schools liable if they didn’t arm teachers.

The proposed legislation would make it so that insurance companies could not pull coverage, as some Kansas lawmakers hope to overcome the insurance hurdle that has stymied many districts across the country from pursuing the policy.

I think it is a situation where legislators who didn’t know anything about insurance are making rules that won’t work.

I think it is a situation where legislators who didn’t know anything about insurance are making rules that won’t work.

“That’s what worries me about this year’s bill,” said Kansas Sen. Lynn Rogers, who was a school board member of Wichita School Districts for more than 16 years. “I don’t know if you can make insurance companies provide coverage, or they might just leave the state entirely. I think it is a situation where legislators who didn’t know anything about insurance are making rules that won’t work.”

And there are examples of schools taking on rising insurance premiums because of similar laws.

In 2013, the Oregon School Board Association, which provides insurance coverage for most of the state’s schools, announced a new pricing structure for K-12 schools that decided to use armed personnel on their campuses.

It costs schools an additional $1,500 for each armed individual who has military training or equivalent experience, is a member of a city or county law enforcement agency and is certified by the Department of Public Safety Standards. For those with just the department’s certification, coverage is $2,500 more per person.

The new plan was not an opinion on arming school staff, the association said in the structure’s explanation. “Rather our intent is to help reduce the liability exposure to the Pool arising out of the use of armed personnel.”

Will arming teachers be possible in Florida?

The board of the Lake County School District in Florida met last week to discuss the results of a survey that asked teachers how they felt about being armed. Fifty-three percent of the staff supported the idea while 47 percent were opposed, according to school district chairwoman Stephanie Luke.

The board has spoken to the county sheriff and debated the issue in public hearings that lasted more than five hours, with the speakers about evenly split on the issue. Next, they plan to organize a student committee to represent the more than 42,000 members of its student body.

 Protesters attend the March For Our Lives just north of Columbus Circle in New York City on March 24, 2018. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

“Nobody wants to make the wrong decision,” Luke said. “If we decide that we want to have guns on campus and something tragic does happen, then you feel like you made the wrong decision. But if someone was stopped who was trying to harm your children then it’s the right one.”

But all of those conversations may be moot depending on what their insurance company tells them.

“It’s a discussion we’re having with our lawyer and our insurance company,” Luke said, emphasizing that those talks are only at early stages, as the board does not want to appear that it has come to any conclusions on a new policy. “But it would be more liability,” she conceded.

Insurance and safety experts see risk

School safety and insurance experts agree that adding a firearm to a classroom only increases the risk of gun violence — whether intentional or otherwise.

“Granted, [school shootings] are becoming more frequent, but it still is a rare occurrence,” said Tory Brownyard, the president of the Brownyard Group, an agency that insures security companies. “Putting a firearm in a school every day of the year, I feel, increases the exposure and potential risk of something happening.”

And two incidents that occurred last month would suggest Brownyard might have a point.

In early March, a Georgia teacher was arrested after he fired a gun at a high school and barricaded himself in a classroom for nearly an hour. Two weeks later, a California high school teacher injured three students when he fired a gun inside a classroom during a firearm safety course.


Kenneth Trump (no relations to President Trump) heads the National School Safety and Security Services and is a frequent expert witness in litigation focused on school security. The common theme, he said, is typically human error. And adding a gun to that equation could lead to a troubling outcome.

“While a lot of these approaches from arming teachers and having kids engage heavily armed gunman to many other knee jerk unproven practices meet emotional security needs, the devil is always in the details of implementation and many of these approaches bring great risk or unintended consequences,” Kenneth Trump said.

Normal in some schools

Many smaller school districts across the country, however, say that arming their staff is the best way to insure safety at schools that don’t have nearby law enforcement officers.

Callisburg Independent School District, which is about 90 miles north of Dallas, successfully implemented a so-called guardian program in their schools about four years ago. Notably, though, the entire district is only responsible for slightly more than 1,100 students during the 2016-17 school year, according to the Texas Tribune.

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Multi-million pound cannabis haul found in shipping container in Dublin | World News



Cannabis worth an estimated €7m (£6.4m) has been found in a shipping container in Dublin.

The container had 352kg of herbal cannabis and had arrived in the Irish city port from Spain.

Three men, aged 31, 47 and 49, have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking offences.

They were taken to Garda stations across Dublin for questioning on Friday as searches continued.

The operation was part of investigations by the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau and Revenue Customs officers into illegal activities of organised crime groups.

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Donald Trump ploy backfires as Benjamin Netanyahu swerves invitation to criticise Joe Biden | World News



An attempt by Donald Trump to secure an election endorsement from the Israeli prime minister has backfired during a White House photo call.

With reporters gathered in the Oval Office to mark the signing of a historic US-brokered peace deal between Israel and Sudan, the US president asked Benjamin Netanyahu, who was on speakerphone, if Joe Biden could have secured such a deal.

“Do you think ‘Sleepy Joe’ could have made this deal, Bibi? ‘Sleepy Joe’? Do you think he would have made this deal? Somehow I don’t think so,” Mr Trump asked Mr Netanyahu.

Dodging the invitation to knock Mr Trump‘s presidential opponent, the Israeli leader replied: “Uh, well, Mr President, one thing I can tell you is that we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America.

“And we appreciate what you have done enormously.”

The two leaders were marking the brokering of an Israeli-Sudanese peace deal
The two leaders were marking the brokering of an Israeli-Sudanese peace deal

The two leaders were speaking at an event celebrating the beginning of normalisation talks between Israel and the Arab-African nation of Sudan.

Mr Trump had put the Israeli prime minister on speakerphone in front of the gathered media, and saw an opportunity for a moment of electioneering.

More from Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli leader has been accused in the past of interfering in American elections. In 2012, he met Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the election campaign and attacked the policies of Barack Obama.

This time though, with the polls suggesting a win for Mr Biden, a more cautious Netanyahu chose a more diplomatic tone.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask, looks on while standing inside the court room as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court
Benjamin Netanyahu has previously been accused of interfering in the US elections

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There is no question that a Trump victory would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu, whose policies in the Middle East have been backed, and, to a large extent, driven by the Trump administration.

Mr Trump’s decision to pull out of the Obama-brokered Iran denuclearisation deal was roundly welcomed by Mr Netanyahu.

Historic diplomatic normalisation deals with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and now Sudan have been forged with significant White House input and – while none of the deals has yet been completed – they represent a huge shift in regional relations.

The global diplomacy has formed a key part of Mr Trump’s re-election campaign as he seeks to prove that he is a successful deal-maker.

A Trump win would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu - although his relationship with Mr Biden spans decades
A Trump win would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu – although his relationship with Mr Biden spans decades

It’s not clear quite how policy in the Middle East would shift under a Biden presidency.

While it’s unlikely that any of the Trump-brokered deals would be unpicked, it is probable that greater attempts would be made to bring the Palestinians back into the fold.

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Biden do have a relationship which spans back decades.

Mr Biden was frequently asked by then-president Obama to take the lead in trying to further peace in the region.

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Coronavirus: US could have 500,000 COVID-19 deaths but universal mask use may save 130,000 lives – study | US News



The number of coronavirus deaths in the US may reach half a million by the end of February – but universal mask wearing could save nearly 130,000 lives, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Washington looked at non-pharmaceutical ways of minimising COVID-19 fatalities.

Their analysis examined how the disease has spread in different states, and projected the effects of varying levels of social distancing and mask use from mid-September 2020 until the end of February 2021.

The risk from coronavirus and the strain on hospitals will stay high through the winter under all scenarios, they said, especially in populous states such as Florida and California.

But if 95% of people were to wear a mask in public, researchers say 129,574 lives could be saved – or 96,000 lives if 85% of people take it up.

Trump dons masks in visit to a military medical facility
President Trump eventually began wearing a mask in public after first saying he wouldn’t do it

More than 223,000 coronavirus-linked deaths have so far been recorded in the US since the crisis began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Our findings indicate that universal mask use, a relatively affordable and low-impact intervention, has the potential to serve as a priority life-saving strategy in all US states,” says the research – published in the Nature Medicine journal.

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The authors quote one recent study that suggested only 49% of Americans said they “always” wear a mask in public.

However, citing a New York Times article, they add that 95% mask use had already been observed in some neighbourhoods of the city.

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Final US presidential debate – highlights

Donald Trump famously shunned the use of masks earlier in the pandemic, but eventually began wearing one.

His election rival, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, has stressed the importance of face coverings, insisting that “masks matter” and “save lives”.

Clashing with Mr Trump during the final presidential debate on Thursday, Mr Biden waved his black face mask as a prop and stated: “If we just wore masks, we could save 100,000 lives.”

In the UK, face coverings were made mandatory in many public settings after initial conflicting reports over their effectiveness.

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