Tovia Smith

As colleges around the U.S. are facing COVID-19 outbreaks and crackdowns on students engaged in coronavirus-risky behavior, campuses are also facing a new threat: legal challenges from the students they're punishing.

Few people have been looking forward to colleges reopening – and staying open — this fall, as much as the people who run Cornwall's Tavern in Boston's Kenmore Square. A go-to for students and faculty at Boston University, the family-owned pub has been counting on the back-to-school crowds to help it survive. In an industry hard-hit by the pandemic, it's a test Cornwall's can't afford to fail.

"It's a frightening time," said Pam Beale, who owns the place with her husband John. "It feels like the earth is moving under your feel all the time."

As stressful as it always is for students applying to college, this year it's all that — and then some — for the admissions officials trying to decide whether to admit them. Because of the pandemic, many students will be applying without standardized test scores and several other metrics admissions officers at selective schools have long relied on, leaving colleges scrambling to figure out what else they might consider instead.

Controversy sparked by "thin blue line" flags flying on town property in Hingham, Mass., continues to roil the small, coastal community, in the latest of many such flare-ups around the nation. Residents are planning rallies both for and against the flags, which some see as a proud tribute to police officers, and others denounce as a racist symbol.

While firefighters have agreed, after more than a week, to comply with town orders to remove the flags hanging on firetrucks, they're now planning an even bolder display.

This is the first in an ongoing series of stories following the struggle of one restaurant trying, like many, to reinvent itself to survive the global pandemic.


Food and drink establishments have been among the most challenging businesses to operate through the pandemic. Around the nation, many have already shut down for good, while others that reopened are now closing again because of increases in COVID-19 cases in some places.

The protests since the death of George Floyd are being hailed by many as a watershed moment that might ultimately bring about an end to police brutality and systemic racism. But the high hopes are also tangled up in dark fears that the current uprising will eventually die down and will end up being just one more missed opportunity.

It has become a political and cultural flashpoint, drawing a clear divide between the "masked" and the "masked-nots." The disdain runs between the consciously unmasked president of the United States and his deliberately mask-donning Democratic rival, all the way on down to those crossing paths — and often crossing each other — in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

Toilet paper has been an issue since the start of the pandemic, but now toilets themselves are the concern. As stay-at-home restrictions are lifting, many are feeling a long pent-up urge to go out, but what's stopping some is concern about their urge to go while they're out.

As in, use the bathroom.

Loath to risk the germs in a public restroom, if they can even find one that's open, many are limiting their outings while others are getting creative.

Updated on May 19 at 11 a.m.

Summer camps around the nation are grappling with whether or how they can open this summer as the pandemic continues. The prospect is especially challenging for overnight camps, where hundreds of kids play, eat and sleep together, and the very idea of social distancing is completely anathema to the camp experience.

Little wonder a growing number of sleep-away camps have already capitulated to COVID-19.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Amid all the disappointments and cancellations for high school seniors this year because of COVID-19, many schools around the nation are scrambling to salvage at least some sort of graduation for the class of 2020. Many are considering holding ceremonies online or staging some sort of drive-by celebration.

"To not have [graduation] just doesn't seem right to us," says Ken Freeston, schools superintendent in North Salem, N.Y.

North Salem High School Principal Vince DiGrandi agrees.

"Absolutely, they've earned it," he says.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If it seems that your Facebook feed is flooded with as many fundraising appeals for animal shelters, humanitarian groups and cancer researchers as your postbox was in December, you aren't imagining things.

Those birthday fundraisers you've likely seen posted by your friends, tripled over the past year, from $300 million raised for charities in 2017-18, to $1 billion a year later. It's great news for those nonprofits. But some Facebook users think it's getting to be too much of a good thing.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

You hear it said about sexual harassers all the time: "Guys like that will never change."

That may be true for those who are out-and-out psychopaths and those with other serious disorders, but experts say most sexual harassers are not in that bucket.

"They're apples and oranges," says forensic psychiatrist and Temple University School of Medicine professor of psychiatry Barbara Ziv, who has spent decades studying both victims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct. Most are "opportunistic offenders" or self-delusional, she says, but they're not beyond help.

For decades, chef Charlie Hallowell was a culinary star around Oakland, Calif., as beloved for his restaurants' hip vibe, as he was for his passion for all the right social causes. Even the national critics raved about his creative modern California cuisine and his "cult following." Bon Appetit fawned, "Hallowell should run for mayor already."

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET Sunday

It's been two years since the #MeToo movement erupted, toppling many powerful men accused of sexual misconduct.

President Trump is showing no signs of dialing back what Democrats are calling a "blatantly racist attack" on four members of Congress, who are all women of color. Trump is accusing the "squad" of "radical Democrats" of hating America and has said they should "go back" to where they came from.

A growing number of high-profile men brought down by the #MeToo movement are now attempting to make a comeback, from comedian Louis C.K. and TV political pundit Mark Halperin to TV host Billy Bush, who was recorded along with Donald Trump on the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape.

It's all stirring debate on the ideas of redemption, rehabilitation, and second chances for those who have lost their jobs because of allegations of sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

Former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer will not face prison time after pleading guilty to accepting bribes as part of a sweeping college admissions scandal that grabbed national headlines and shocked the U.S. higher education system.

A warning to readers, this story may induce nausea in some sports fans, particularly those outside Boston.

As the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues face off in the deciding Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, Boston is also vying to become the first team in nearly a century to hold three major sports championship titles at the same time. The Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots are already reigning champs. And the prospect of a third team winning too is fueling fans' already outsize egos in Boston, while prompting eye rolls elsewhere.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Actress Felicity Huffman, known for her role in Desperate Housewives, broke down in tears in federal court in Boston today, as she pleaded guilty to a scheme to boost her daughter's SAT scores.

Huffman is one of dozens charged in a sweeping conspiracy and bribery case involving wealthy parents, corrupt college coaches, test proctors and college consultants.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump honored the 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox at a White House ceremony Thursday, lauding the team as a "shining example of excellence" in "an American sporting tradition that goes back many generations."

But the tradition of an apolitical White House celebration has become something of a thing of the past, with the invitation from Trump becoming more of a loaded loyalty test, forcing players to pick sides. Roughly a third of the team skipped the event in protest.

As the recent college admissions scandal is shedding light on how parents are cheating and bribing their children's way into college, schools are also focusing on how some students may be cheating their way through college. Concern is growing about a burgeoning online market that makes it easier than ever for students to buy essays written by others to turn in as their own work. And schools are trying new tools to catch it.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We've heard a lot in recent weeks about the cheating that happens to get kids into college, but schools are also focusing on how students may be cheating their way through school. There's a lot of concern specifically about students who don't do their work; instead, they buy ghostwritten essays online. Here's NPR's Tovia Smith.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: It's not hard to understand the temptation; the pressure is enormous, the stakes high, and for some students, college-level work is a huge leap.

The father of a Newtown, Conn., girl who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has died in an apparent suicide. Newtown Police say 49-year-old Jeremy Richman was found dead early Monday morning, not far from his office.

"This is a heartbreaking event for the Richman family and the Newtown Community as a whole; the police department's prayers are with the Richman family right now, and we ask that the family be given privacy in this most difficult time," said Lt. Aaron Bahamonde.

Actress Lori Loughlin, from the TV show Full House, turned herself in to the FBI Wednesday, a day after being charged by prosecutors in a massive college admissions cheating and bribery scandal.

Loughlin along with her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among 33 parents who allegedly paid enormous sums of money to get their kids into the nation's top universities.

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