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Making new friends during a pandemic can be almost impossible for kids. But school staff are finding creative ways to help. – News – providencejournal.com

Making new friends during a pandemic can be almost impossible for kids. But school staff are finding creative ways to help. – News – providencejournal.com

It was a tough day for a 6-year-old. And her mom. Imagine being a first grader in a new school and unable to participate in “Best Friends” day.

Nikki Bourgeois went on Facebook not to complain but to share what it was like for her daughter Mackenna, a brand new Somerset, trying to make friends in remote-learning mode.

“Makenna didn’t have anyone that she could talk about. It was a bit heartbreaking,” Nikki wrote in the post on Oct. 2. “We don’t know anyone in the area, and without her being physically in school, she isn’t able to meet any friends. We have been told that there are kids in the neighborhood that are her age, but we have yet to meet anyone. COVID-19 didn’t help either.”

The social and psychological needs for some students have become a challenge to meet in this COVID-fear-wracked world. Making friendships online doesn’t compare to old-school in-school, face-to-face socializing. And even in the on-site half of hybrid learning, masks and social distancing can reduce the ability of an elementary school age child to make friends, something that is critical for the pre-K through grade 5 set.

Schools and teachers know better than most about this 2020 challenge. And they’re taking action.

Susan Darmody of Westport is a second-grade teacher at the Silvia Elementary School on Meridian Street in Fall River. She’s starting this school year teaching in full remote. Silvia has a mix of remote and hybrid students.

“Tougher for the remote kids,” Darmody said in a text message to The Herald News. “Hybrid kids do a lot of activities with their teachers using social distance in the classroom. Games and outside doing mask breaks. But (the children) are so happy to be in school.

“A few ways we help make the kids feel

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Americans are ‘panic buying’ life insurance due to coronavirus pandemic

Americans are ‘panic buying’ life insurance due to coronavirus pandemic

  • Many firms have noted double-digit increases in the number of life insurance policies they’ve sold during the Covid-19 pandemic relative to last year. 
  • The increase is largely due to a fear of death and greater awareness of financial risks associated with mortality, experts said.
  • Insurance sales have been dwindling for years. In 2020, just over half of American adults reported having a life insurance policy, down from 63% a decade earlier.





© Provided by CNBC


Life insurance is enjoying something of a renaissance as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Consumers, especially younger adults, have been buying insurance in elevated numbers since the spring, when thousands of Americans began getting ill and dying from Covid-19.

That result is logical, experts said, given the core use of life insurance: as a financial backstop in the event of death.

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For example, what if the breadwinner of a family dies unexpectedly from Covid-19? Insurance is meant to plug that immediate gap in household income.

“It’s forced the idea of financial protection and mortality to the top of mind for consumers in a way very few events have,” said Jennifer Fitzgerald, the CEO and co-founder of Policygenius, an online marketplace for life insurance.

‘Panic buying’

Insurance sales have been dwindling for years. In 2020, just over half of American adults reported having a life insurance policy, down from 63% a decade earlier.

But Google Search traffic for “life insurance” jumped 50% between March and May this year compared with the same period in 2019, said Fitzgerald, whose firm gets a large share of business from such internet

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Will individuals see the savings from insurance pandemic relief? Not quite

Will individuals see the savings from insurance pandemic relief? Not quite

Health insurance companies are offering their corporate customers rebates to offset premium costs and reflect lower medical spending as patients avoid doctors’ offices, routine procedures and elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.



a person sitting at a desk: ACA Health Experts call center expert, Cynthia Hernandez helps Tiffany Wright get health insurance at the Ahmed and Roshan Virani Children's Clinic, Monday,Nov. 14, 2016 in Houston. It’s likely that 2021 health insurance premiums will remain around the same prices as 2020, experts said.


© Karen Warren, Staff Photographer / Houston Chronicle

ACA Health Experts call center expert, Cynthia Hernandez helps Tiffany Wright get health insurance at the Ahmed and Roshan Virani Children’s Clinic, Monday,Nov. 14, 2016 in Houston. It’s likely that 2021 health insurance premiums will remain around the same prices as 2020, experts said.


It’s unclear how big an impact the rebates, in the form of credits, might have on the premiums companies pay and contributions their employees make. Premiums vary from company to company and, depending on the circumstances, the rebates could lower premiums, keep them from rising or at least limit increases.

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Companies, meanwhile, will decide whether to adjust employee contributions to health insurance premiums based on the rebates they might receive.

Fewer claims were filed during the pandemic, meaning insurance companies paid out less, kept more of the premiums they collect and earned higher profits. As a result, insurers are coming under pressure to return some of the windfall to customers, particularly since the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from keeping more that more than 20 percent of premiums for administrative costs and profits.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance in August that allows insurers to refund the excess profits this or next year as premium credits, which are discounts that reduce the amount paid monthly.

On Tuesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said it would help customers during the pandemic by issuing $104 million in premium credits to employers that it insures. It also said it would adjust the price of 2021 premiums for individual and group plans, saving buyers

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Half of Texans are facing financial hardship due to coronavirus pandemic, survey says

Half of Texans are facing financial hardship due to coronavirus pandemic, survey says

Half of Texans experienced some kind of financial hardship because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a new survey finds.

The survey conducted by the Episcopal Health Foundation highlights how the pandemic affects people across the state from different household incomes, race, whether or not they have health insurance and other factors. Nearly 1,900 Texans were surveyed.

“From being uninsured to not having internet access for online school, Texans say these non-medical factors are not only shaping how they’re dealing with the pandemic, they also could be seriously affecting their future health in many different ways,” said Elena Marks, CEO of Episcopal Health Foundation.

Of the 50% of people who experienced financial hardship, roughly 22% of Texas residents, say they are facing “severe hardship,” the survey said, and about 28% of people are facing “moderate hardship.”

Those with less than $50,000 in household income were more likely to experience financial distress than those making more than $50,000, according to the survey. A third of all people surveyed said someone in their home lost a job, business or had work hours reduced.

Those who are deemed essential workers make up about 34% of Texans, the survey said. About 43% of essential workers are Hispanic, 38% are white, and 10% are Black. According to the survey, those who hold essential jobs are more likely to receive government assistance like food programs and Medicaid, and they are less likely to have health insurance.

Medical care was postponed or skipped altogether by 36% of people since the start of the pandemic, the survey found. Most Texans say their mental health is good, but 46% are worried about how stress related to the pandemic has had a negative impact on their health.

Texas continues to have the highest rate of people in the nation without health

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How Financial Services Can Enhance The Digital Customer Experience In The Pandemic Age

How Financial Services Can Enhance The Digital Customer Experience In The Pandemic Age

CEO at Urjanet, helping organizations impact people, planet and profits using our innovative cloud-based data service.

Digital transformation in banking and lending has been underway for several years, but the pace is accelerating as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As banks pivot from branch footprint expansion to an omni-channel strategy, the truly digital customer experience is finally here. 

To be competitive throughout the pandemic and after it, building a customer-focused, digital-first institution is a must as customer-centric banks outperform their more traditional peers. Investments in data innovation can help streamline this shift to online experiences and also yield substantial returns. One study showed that banks and credit unions that digitize processes can achieve a 20% increase in revenues and a 30% decline in expenses.

This requires not just financial services institutions but also their partners and suppliers to rethink how they leverage data and technology. My own company has had to refocus our product roadmap, service model and support tools for our financial services customers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver better digital processes. Corporately, we’ve also had to adjust how we interact with banking and lending customers, most recently shifting our annual customer conference from an in-person event in Atlanta to a series of digital events. In September, we met virtually with these industry leaders and their solution providers to hear how they are adapting to the new global circumstances with data innovation and new customer experiences.

Consumers demand simple, trustworthy experiences from financial institutions.

Customers’ expectations are rising when it comes to banking and data privacy. According to EY’s customer research, only 60% of consumers are comfortable sharing personal information with their primary financial service provider without any assurance regarding data protection and security. Features like full price transparency, hyper-personalization and clear ownership

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