Tents fit for a wedding reception and artfully constructed wooden bandstands: Welcome to outdoor classrooms during a pandemic — and now for the bad news


It didn’t take a pandemic for Sharon Danks to recognize the benefits of outdoor learning.

In fact, she started researching the environmental, physical and mental-health benefits of outdoor learning more than two decades before founding the nonprofit Green Schoolyards America seven years ago.

Before the pandemic, Danks partnered primarily with individual schools in districts near Berkeley, Calif., where the organization is based.

The pandemic, she said, has only strengthened the case for outdoor learning nationwide, especially given the amount of scientific research suggesting that the outdoors is less hospitable to the coronavirus than indoors where air circulation is significantly more limited.

See:Two teachers face a difficult choice: One welcomes ‘normalcy,’ while another feels ‘rage,’ and COVID-19 has radically altered feelings about school for both

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that schools “consider using outdoor space, weather-permitting, to enable social distancing.” The agency specifically recommends having lunch outside in place of in a communal cafeteria or otherwise eating within classrooms.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also urged schools to find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. “Get as much outdoors as you can,” he said in a Facebook
FB,
-0.06%

live event in August. “If you look at the superspreader events that have occurred, they’re almost always inside.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes Fauci’s views also urging schools to “utilize outdoor spaces when possible.”

Some schools have even built wood bandstand-like structures in the grounds to provide children with outdoor spaces.

Weather permitting, others have opted for tents that look more like they’re going to welcome wedding guests instead of children and teachers. Another school simply uses a circle of tree stumps.

“Nature is something that has been proven to decrease stress levels, and, during this pandemic, there has so much stress and trauma,” Danks said. What’s more, not all school buildings have enough space for children to maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.

“Outside not only do you have air that isn’t recirculating, but kids don’t have to stay in assigned seats all day and can actually move around,” she said.

Many schools recognized that back in March when they shifted to virtual instruction and reached out to Danks inquiring about how they, too, could create outdoor learning environments in preparation for the fall.

The overwhelming amount of inquiries she received led her to partner with three other nonprofits to form a National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative that provides schools with templates for how to construct an outdoor classroom, lesson plans and other tools with the support of more than 400 landscaping, design and educational volunteers.

One problem she noticed: “The bigger the institution, the longer it takes to change direction. Smaller schools such as single-district public schools and independent nonprofit private schools are doing this much more quickly because they don’t need to ask for permission.”

Not all schools have parent-teacher associations

But school size isn’t the only thing holding back schools from building outdoor classrooms in parts of the country where in-person learning is allowed to take place.

For children with special needs, for example, an outdoor learning environment poses a slew of problems, said Mindy Rosier-Rayburn, an elementary special-education science teacher at the Mickey Mantle School in New York City.

As of Friday nearly 800 schools in the city were approved to offer outdoor learning.

The New York City Department of Education did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment regarding efforts to level the playing field for lower-income schools that would like to offer outdoor learning, but can’t because they lack the funds to do so.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio gave city public schools the go-ahead in late August to offer outdoor learning in streets and parks near schools, Rosier-Rayburn recognized that there would be a “glaring equity issue” for schools in higher-income neighborhoods versus lower-income ones like the school district she teaches at, in Harlem.

“The comments I heard early on were that PTAs can help pay for these things,” she said, “but my school doesn’t even have a PTA, and there are so many others that don’t.”

“We are a Title 1 school,” she said. This type of school typically has a high concentration of children from low-income families and receives federal grants. All students attending Mickey Mantle School qualify for free lunch, she said.

When Rosier-Rayburn started teaching science remotely in the spring, she said, “I didn’t even feel comfortable asking parents to get supplies to do science experiments. If the experiment involves something I think they had at home, I tried to do that.”

Even if Rosier-Rayburn’s school had access to funds to purchase tents and other outdoor items, it would be a nightmare for her and her fellow teachers.

“We have several children who are runners, and that terrifies us. In a building you can control the situation, but outside you can’t,” Rosier-Rayburn, who has been a special-education teacher for nearly 24 years, told MarketWatch.

“We’re always on guard — just like when people enter a room they look for the exit and nearest bathroom, we constantly have to think: What could a student possibly hurt themselves with? That’s why outside learning is the worst idea.”

Additionally, she said several autistic students “could have sensitivity to sounds like honking horns.” Another concern: Some children “tend to put everything in their mouths.”

Plans are still up in the air for the upcoming school year, which in New York City is slated to begin on Sept. 21 after the school date was pushed back when the United Federation Teachers, a labor union composed primarily of public school teachers, threatened to strike over safety concerns relating to in-person learning.

For all of the above reasons, Rosier-Rayburn said she’ll continue teaching remotely, since she has received a medical accommodation to do so.

(The UFT did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.)


Cara Sclafani, a parent of two children who attend P.S. 185, a New York City Title 1 public elementary school, also located in Harlem, has health-related reservations about even sending them back for partial in-person learning certain days each week during an ongoing public health crisis.

As co-chair of the District 3 Green Schools Group, a coalition of parent volunteers who represent Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of central Harlem, advocating for outdoor education, Sclafani has advocated outdoor learning as much as possible.

Over a year ago, she successfully received two grants from New York City nonprofits to transform a deserted lot on school grounds that was “pretty much overrun with weeds,” she said, into a school garden and outdoor learning area.

Pictured is one of the outdoor learning areas at P.S. 185 which was previously a vacant and overgrown lot.


Cara Sclafani

Last year, she said, it was always a challenge to get teachers to wander outside of the classroom, “even though we set up this nice area for them with a tree canopy, benches and a reading library.”


And now? “The teachers are going to bring their students outside at least once a day,” Sclafani told MarketWatch. “Whether it’s just to read a book, paint or have physical education outside.”

She considers these types of activities “easy wins” to accomplish. Ultimately, however, she and other members of D3GSG are working on a “long-term vision” of having a “full-blown outdoor learning program” by the spring of 2021.

Sclafani said she was directly inspired by a Green Schoolyards America workshop she attended in June about constructing an outdoor learning environment. The organization, she said, has helped redesign P.S. 185’s outdoor learning space. She is on the infrastructure team at Green Schoolyards and is helping advise other schools across the county.

”Having outdoor learning at P.S.185 is a key factor for my family in determining whether or not my kids will attend in-person learning. We don’t have the school schedule yet, but I am hopeful my kids will be getting outside for at least a couple hours every day.”




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This analysis of Wall Street stock ratings is sounding a warning for Tesla and 62 other stocks


In the financial media, “Wall Street” typically means U.S. brokerage firms and often the analysts who work for them. They are known as “sell-side analysts.” They work independently of the firms’ sales teams, but there’s no question that Wall Street’s job is to sell stocks. So when you see a high level of “sell” ratings on a stock, take heed.

Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
+2.78%

is the poster child for high-flying stocks during this pandemic year. The electric-car company’s shares are up 435% this year and 891% in the past 12 months. And as the shares have shot up, many analysts have continually increased their price targets.

But not all of them have kept doing so. And now, among 37 sell-side analysts polled by FactSet, eight rate the shares the equivalent of a “buy,” while 11 rate them the equivalent of a “sell.” The shares closed at $447.37 on Sept. 2. The consensus price target among those analysts is $284.97, implying 36% downside for the shares.

Tesla is not yet included in the benchmark S&P 500 Index
SPX,
-0.81%
,
although it is expected to be added soon. It is rare for any S&P 500 stock to have majority “sell” ratings, and none do at this time. But a quick look shows 33 stocks with “sell” ratings outweighing “buy” ratings.

Expanding to the Russell 1000 Index
RUI,
-0.85%

of the largest 1,000 publicly traded companies listed in the U.S. by market capitalization (including Tesla and subject to changes when stocks plunge), there are four companies with majority “sell” ratings.

Among the Russell 1000, there are 63 companies with “sell” ratings outweighing “buy” ratings. Here they are, sorted by market capitalization:

Company

Ticker

Share ‘buy’ ratings

Share ‘sell’ ratings

Market cap. ($ millions)

Total return – 2020 through Sept. 2

Tesla Inc.

TSLA,
+2.78%
22%

30%

416,863

435%

Exxon Mobil Corp.

XOM,
-0.07%
12%

20%

165,704

-41%

Illinois Tool Works Inc.

ITW,
-0.37%
13%

22%

63,849

14%

Public Storage

PSA,
-0.37%
13%

27%

37,436

3%

Southern Copper Corp.

SCCO,
+0.81%
15%

54%

37,092

16%

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

WBA,
-0.53%
5%

9%

32,209

-35%

WEC Energy Group Inc.

WEC,
+0.13%
15%

38%

30,726

8%

Paychex Inc.

PAYX,
-0.36%
10%

19%

27,988

-6%

Hormel Foods Corp.

HRL,
+0.17%
8%

23%

27,698

15%

ResMed Inc.

RMD,
-2.41%
22%

33%

26,517

19%

McCormick & Co. Inc.

MKC,
-1.05%
17%

33%

26,001

25%

Brown-Forman Corp. Class B

BF.B,
+0.97%
6%

33%

24,715

19%

Consolidated Edison Inc.

ED,
+0.88%
6%

35%

24,161

-18%

Mettler-Toledo International Inc.

MTD,
-1.42%
0%

25%

24,095

27%

Equity Residential

EQR,
+1.23%
21%

26%

21,473

-27%

Expeditors International of Washington Inc.

EXPD,
-0.84%
7%

36%

15,218

17%

Avangrid Inc.

AGR,
+0.55%
9%

36%

14,968

-3%

Tiffany & Co.

TIF,
-0.31%
0%

7%

14,854

-8%

J.M. Smucker Co.

SJM,
-0.56%
6%

17%

13,786

19%

FactSet Research Systems Inc.

FDS,
-1.97%
0%

44%

13,452

33%

Waters Corp.

WAT,
-1.39%
0%

38%

13,442

-7%

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.

CHRW,
+0.29%
18%

23%

13,438

29%

Jack Henry & Associates Inc.

JKHY,
-1.52%
10%

20%

13,113

18%

Cognex Corp.

CGNX,
-5.22%
22%

28%

12,376

28%

Brown-Forman Corp. Class A

BF.A,
+0.31%
6%

35%

12,170

15%

CenturyLink Inc.

CTL,
-0.09%
13%

44%

11,985

-11%

Ubiquiti Inc.

UI,
+0.13%
25%

75%

11,942

0%

Omnicom Group Inc

OMC,
-0.38%
25%

33%

11,588

-32%

Occidental Petroleum Corp.

OXY,
-2.70%
12%

19%

11,534

-68%

Lennox International Inc.

LII,
-0.42%
12%

29%

11,009

19%

Franklin Resources Inc.

BEN,
-1.02%
0%

43%

10,784

-14%

Carnival Corp.

CCL,
+5.40%
5%

20%

10,037

-67%

Western Union Co.

WU,
-0.86%
10%

29%

9,852

-9%

Allegion PLC

ALLE,
-0.74%
0%

9%

9,666

-15%

CNA Financial Corp.

CNA,
-0.34%
0%

25%

8,766

-22%

Watsco Inc.

WSO,
-0.95%
11%

22%

8,161

42%

Beyond Meat Inc.

BYND,
-3.06%
22%

30%

8,099

72%

Gap Inc.

GPS,
-0.90%
13%

17%

6,870

5%

Vornado Realty Trust

VNO,
+1.46%
15%

23%

6,830

-44%

Credit Acceptance Corp.

CACC,
+0.42%
0%

33%

6,807

-13%

American Airlines Group Inc.

AAL,
+1.87%
20%

45%

6,728

-54%

Grubhub Inc.

GRUB,
-0.77%
0%

4%

6,629

48%

Commerce Bancshares Inc.

CBSH,
+1.86%
0%

40%

6,599

-12%

Continental Resources Inc.

CLR,
-1.81%
10%

16%

5,992

-52%

Comerica Inc.

CMA,
+2.54%
19%

23%

5,587

-42%

Invesco Ltd.

IVZ,
+2.24%
11%

28%

4,881

-38%

Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.

CFR,
+2.79%
20%

47%

4,403

-26%

Rayonier Inc.

RYN,
-2.17%
14%

29%

4,109

-6%

Xerox Holdings Corp.

XRX,
+1.52%
13%

25%

3,992

-48%

Unum Group

UNM,
+8.21%
9%

18%

3,802

-33%

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.

HE,
+0.20%
0%

67%

3,750

-25%

Antero Midstream Corp.

AM,
-1.63%
11%

22%

2,979

-2%

Brighthouse Financial Inc.

BHF,
+6.15%
9%

27%

2,865

-21%

Teradata Corp.

TDC,
-0.70%
14%

21%

2,611

-11%

Mercury General Corp.

MCY,
+0.17%
0%

50%

2,526

-3%

Trinity Industries Inc.

TRN,
+1.79%
17%

33%

2,469

-3%

Nordstrom Inc.

JWN,
+2.77%
14%

18%

2,448

-61%

Taubman Centers Inc.

TCO,
+1.24%
0%

11%

2,357

25%

Park Hotels & Resorts Inc.

PK,
+6.64%
7%

36%

2,300

-60%

Sabre Corp.

SABR,
+2.98%
22%

33%

2,253

-67%

First Hawaiian Inc.

FHB,
+1.12%
25%

50%

2,133

-41%

Associated Banc-Corp

ASB,
+2.79%
0%

10%

2,096

-36%

Chesapeake Energy Corp.

CHKAQ,
+2.36%
0%

100%

46

-97%

Source: FactSet



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U.S. Defense Department reaffirms $10 billion cloud deal to Microsoft


The Force appears to be finally with Microsoft Corp. in its epic duel with Amazon.com Inc. for JEDI.

The Department of Defense on Friday said it has completed its re-evaluation of the hotly-contested $10 billion cloud-computing deal and reaffirmed its award to Microsoft. “Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the government,” the DoD said in a statement.

“The JEDI Cloud contract is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that will make a full range of cloud computing services available to the DoD,” the statement continued. “While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the Preliminary Injunction Order issued by the Court of Federal Claims on February 13, 2020, DoD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.”

The announcement came shortly before the markets closed. In another brutal day for tech stocks Friday, shares of Microsoft
MSFT,
-1.40%

dropped 1.4% in trading; Amazon
AMZN,
-2.17%

shares declined 2.2%.

“We appreciate that after careful review, the DoD confirmed that we offered the right technology and the best value. We’re ready to get to work and make sure that those who serve our country have access to this much needed technology,” a Microsoft spokesperson told MarketWatch.

Amazon vowed to “protest this politically corrupted contract award” in a strongly worded blog post.

“[Amazon Web Services] remains deeply concerned that the JEDI contract award creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity of the federal procurement system and the ability of our nation’s warfighters and civil servants to access the best possible technologies,” Amazon said. “Others have raised similar concerns around a growing trend where defense officials act based on a desire to please the President, rather than do what’s right.”

“This was illustrated by the refusal to cooperate with the DoD Inspector General, which sought to investigate allegations that the President interfered in the JEDI procurement in order to steer the award away from AWS,” Amazon continued. “Instead of cooperating, the White House exerted a ‘presidential communications privilege’ that resulted in senior DoD officials not answering questions about JEDI communications between the White House and DoD. This begs the question, what do they have to hide?”

The Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud-computing deal over 10 years is considered a plum government contract. The Pentagon initially awarded JEDI to Microsoft in October over the objections of co-finalist Amazon, which filed suit in protest in November. In April, a federal judge gave the Pentagon permission to reevaluate bids from Microsoft and Amazon.

Read more: Amazon files suit, challenging Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft

Anticipating a win, Microsoft has been signing similar deals with foreign governments for cloud-infrastructure services, according to a report by CNBC last month.

For years, Microsoft and co-finalist Amazon have engaged in behind-the-scenes lobbying and subterfuge over the deal as they battle for supremacy in the cloud market. And at times, the competition has taken on almost a cartoonish quality, evoking Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy comic strip.

Adding to the political intrigue is the future of TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based Internet company. Microsoft is the leading candidate to acquire TikTok, though Oracle Corp.
ORCL,
-2.39%

and Twitter Inc.
TWTR,
-4.22%

have also been mentioned as suitors. Alphabet Inc.’s
GOOGL,
-2.96%

GOOG,
-3.09%

Google was part of a group that explored a bid before dropping the idea, according to a Bloomberg report.

Microsoft is believed to be the favorite to acquire TikTok, published reports suggest, because it has been in close contact with the Trump administration. The software giant was initially awarded JEDI in October because of the president’s disdain for Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Trump-baiting Washington Post, say two people closely aligned to Amazon who are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Amazon Web Services commanded 47% of the cloud infrastructure market in 2019, while Microsoft had 13%, according to estimates from market researcher IDC.

“This is a game changer for Microsoft as JEDI will have a ripple effect for the company’s cloud business for years to come, and speaks to a new chapter of Redmond winning in the cloud vs. Amazon in our opinion on the next $1 trillion of cloud spending expected to happen over the next decade,” Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said in a note late Friday.



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My sons want to skip college because of the pandemic — do I force them to go, and if they don’t, do I still have to support them financially?


Dear Ms. MoneyPeace,

My two boys graduated from high school this year. Though they are twins, they are as different as can be. One, I’ll call Tommy, was planning to go to college several states away until the school went online. The other, Timmy, was planning a gap year of traveling and working abroad.

The coronavirus upended a lot of people’s plans, including theirs. Timmy decided to go to a trade school for plumbing. Tommy is going to stay home and work odd jobs and may even “take a class or two” (his words). They want to know what their allowance will be! The economy isn’t great, though for now we are holding our own and have college savings in a 529 plan.

My wife and I went to college. She says, “Whatever they want, I’m OK.” They are only 18 — so young to make a life decision. I was the first generation of my family to attend college and want my boys to go. But how do I make them? Or what do I do to support them? What are other families doing at this time? Is giving an allowance reasonable?

Dear Double Trouble Parent:

We all have been adapting to this new world of living in a pandemic. The goal: Being alive and healthy.

People are changing careers, moving house and spending more time with elders. Other young adults have decided to skip college or attend a school closer to home because of what they have lived through the past few months.

Your sons sound like reasonable young men. Now take this opportunity to teach them about money.

First, sit with your wife. The two of you must have had a plan for their college education. Were you going to pay tuition? Living expenses? Personal expenses? Have them contribute by working and taking on loans?

Readjust your plan, given the changes in your financial life. Then discuss what makes sense for each twin. Standing together and setting up expectations are what’s important at this point.

Second, talk to your sons with your wife so everyone is on the same page. Explain how you are going to help them as they transition to financial independence. Each child is different, but you can set up ground rules. Discuss everything from health insurance, to cell phones, to gas for the cars. Include living-at-home parameters: Do they pay rent? Do chores? Help with groceries?

Then, the issue of the allowance can be brought up. Every family handles it differently: From nothing to carte blanche with a credit card. Do not overpromise what you can afford, especially if your job is at risk or your income dwindling.

Treat them as the young adults they are, allowing them to contribute to the conversation and their future. You may even share the amount in their 529 plans and say it’s for education, not an allowance. They will have a finite amount of money for education. Whether you contribute to their living expenses beyond keeping a roof over their head may depend on a number of things — if they are in school or until they are a certain age, for example.

Be sure to explain that the situation is fluid. When they understand that a handout isn’t assured, you help them become better financial decision makers.

I hear some stress about your children not heading off to college. As one parent acknowledged to me last year: “My ego is involved in where my child goes to college.”

Let go of this issue being about you. College served you and your wife well. That’s great. That was a different time, and your twins are different people. This is about them, so do not make this about you.

Your boys are being thoughtful about where they spend their time and money. Be glad about that. They are not on autopilot, taking on student loans as 54% of college attendees do.

Educate Tommy that a gap year is not a goof-off year. Let him be creative and devise something he can learn from and help him get ready for the rest of his life. Maybe he can volunteer or take a class while working part-time.

Support Timmy with your joy that he knows what he wants to do. Plumbing may be just what suits him. Or he may go back to school down the road but still retain those trade skills. There are plenty of tradespeople who start off at a company and rise up to management because they are hard workers with other important skills and experience.

A couple of decades ago, my sister with her newly minted graduate degree in nursing was out with a group. She discovered a plumber friend was making more money per hour than she was. After the shock was over, she realized she still preferred being a nurse. Money is not the demonstration of success. After all, works accounts for 2,080 hours a year, and it should be satisfying.

Besides, people change careers. The average adult changes jobs more than 12 times. An 18-year-old is not making a lifetime decision. Help relieve their stress rather than add to it.

Finally, if money is left in your 529 plan after your boys are settled and have their career plans in action, the money is still available. You or your wife or other children could use it for education. Or to pay for college loans. Or you and wife can take it out and enjoy the money for your retirement — after you pay income taxes on it, of course.

The world is changing. The pandemic has shifted so much. Revisiting every situation with a grounded consciousness of today’s information will help you maintain your health, including mental and financial wellness.

CD Moriarty, CFP, is a columnist forMarketWatch and a personal-finance speaker, writer and coach. She blogs at Money Peace.



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Coronavirus cases are rising again in Europe and governments try desperately to avoid a return to brutal lockdowns. They may succeed


As European children return to their reopened schools this week, governments are still grappling with multiple second waves of the virus and tightening coronavirus-related restrictions to avoid having to resort to more radical measures.

– Europe can “conquer the pandemic” by learning to live with it without waiting for a vaccine, and can avoid going back to full economic and social lockdowns, World Health Organization regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said on Tuesday.

– Wearing masks in the workplace is compulsory in France, as the number of new cases has shot back to its record level since the height of the pandemic in March. Masks are also mandatory in the streets of most major French cities, including Paris.

– Tourism in Spain was down 75% in July compared with the same month in 2019, according to data released on Tuesday. And spending by international visitors was down 70% in the same month.

– Spain and France are by far the two countries in Europe where the number of new cases has risen fastest, but coronavirus infections are also up, albeit in smaller numbers, in Germany, Italy and the U.K.

– Attempts by German far-right protesters to storm the Bundestag, the country’s Parliament building, in anti-mask protests over the weekend, were condemned by politicians left and right, with the interior minister warning there would be “zero tolerance” for such acts.

– According to an article from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, although no less than 125 coronavirus vaccines are currently under development, little chance remains that one of them will prove effective before the end of 2021.

Read:Retail sales in the U.K. are back to their pre-coronavirus levels. Here’s why this may not last

The outlook: Although most European countries are facing new COVID-19 spikes, the number of deaths hasn’t been rising in similar proportions. Heading into the winter season, that seems to give governments some leeway to tailor their responses to the pandemic, and, notably, experiment with local restrictions. Still, governments such as France’s or the U.K.’s are warning that they may not be left with much choice other than returning to economically devastating general lockdowns if the virus keeps spreading. That in turn depends on the governments’ own credibility, and the trust they inspire – or not – among their citizens.

Read: Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s resignation shocks the markets but what happens next depends on his successor



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