South Korea’s Covid cases rise but half a million students sit for CSAT, a college entrance exam

The tests are so significant that, in normal years, the country rolls out extreme measures to support students — office hours are changed to clear roads to avoid students getting stuck in traffic and flights are rescheduled to prevent the sound of plane engines disrupting the English listening test.

But this year, even greater planning has been required, as South Korea attempts to hold the exams while keeping teenagers safe from coronavirus. Students will have their temperature checked before entering the testing facilities and will need to wear masks throughout the exam.

Arrangements were even made for 3,775 students to take the tests from quarantine, and for the 35 students who tested positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday to sit the exam from a hospital bed.

The exams help decide whether students will make it into the most prestigious colleges and what career path they can take — some options, such as medicine, will be shut off to students who don’t get a high-enough score.

“Every citizen understands the exam to be a major national event,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae told CNN in an exclusive interview ahead of the test.

South Korea has been relatively successful at controlling its Covid-19 outbreak, with more than 35,000 reported cases and 529 deaths.

But as students prepared for the biggest test of their high-school career, the country has been hit by a third wave of cases, particularly in metropolitan Seoul, where half the country’s population lives. A week before the exam, Yoo ordered high schools across the country to shut and switch to online classes.

What it’s like doing an exam during coronavirus

That South Korea can hold its college placement tests at all is remarkable — and is down to careful planning by authorities.

Other countries have been forced to cancel or postpone exams due to coronavirus — the US College Board, for instance, canceled the SATs that were due to be held in May, citing student safety. The United Kingdom canceled A-levels, which determine university entrance, and students received the grades their teachers predicted for them.

But it’s hardly exam season as usual in South Korea.

Normally, nervous parents cheer their children on as they enter the testing centers, but this year, Seoul authorities told parents to refrain from cheering or waiting outside the school gate on the day of the exam. Anyone who showed sign of illness was ordered to sit the test in a separate room where invigilators wore full hazmat suits.

Parents wearing face masks pray during a service to wish for their children's success on the eve of the college entrance exam at the Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea, on December 2, 2020.

Students were separated by dividers as they sat their test, and the government established ventilation guidelines for exam rooms. Students were prevented from using cafeteria or waiting halls to minimize contact.

Public health clinics performed tests until 10 p.m. the day before the exam, to encourage students to get diagnosed if they had symptoms. Covid tests for students were prioritized. One high school teacher in Daejeon, a city south of Seoul, tested positive around 9.30 p.m. Wednesday. After one of his close contacts tested positive, dozens of

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Aggressive Testing at University Cuts COVID Rate to Near Zero


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently completed its in-person fall semester. And as the nation watches the COVID-19 virus surge, the school continues the virus testing program that has worked so well since it began in August. 

The COVID-19 positivity rate for the entire student body and faculty for the past seven days was 0.45 percent. The number of total tests given since the inception of the program? A staggering 908,158. But it’s that rate of testing and contact tracing that reduced the positivity rate from a high of nearly 3 percent in late August to what it is now.  

All of the 49,000 students, 2,800 faculty and 8,000 staff are tested at least once weekly using saliva tests, which have proven to produce fewer false positives and fewer false negatives than the swab tests. The saliva test entails the subject “drooling” into a vial.  

“We started the week before classes began on August 24,” Brian Brauer, EMS coordinator at the University of Illinois, wrote in an email. “It was our ‘soft’ opening for the program.” The following week, because of off-campus activities, the positivity rate spiked to 2.86 percent. A week later, with testing and contact tracing, officials had the rate down to 1 percent.  

Brauer wrote that the university has a defined schedule for testing and that, initially, everyone was tested twice per week. It was learned that undergrad students were testing positive at a rate higher than everyone else, though, and so as those students have continued with twice-weekly testing, others were tested once per week until the current surge occurred around the country.   

“We are able to identify clusters of positive cases based on addresses, and we moved those undergrads to every other day,” Bauer wrote. “Currently, we’re back to twice a week testing for all persons on campus.” 

The tests are free at the 17 locations on campus. A university app tied to students IDs moderates the process and acts as a key for students to gain access to campus buildings. They are unable to get that access if they haven’t tested.  

If students test positive, they are notified within 30 minutes with a phone call. “We did not want to email a student or faculty staff member that they were positive,” said Jason Heimbaugh of the University of Illinois Police Department. “We wanted a human voice. Within 30 minutes of knowing, we should have somebody calling that person to reach out to them so that we get them locked down even quicker.”

Students or faculty who test positive are put into isolation on one of the several floors of the residence halls that are being used for that purpose. Other floors in the residence halls are being used for quarantining individuals who have been exposed to the virus.  

The students are able to track, through Bluetooth, if they have been in close contact with a recently confirmed positive case and are notified by the university that they have to get tested.  

“Another benefit

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Are hospitals sending home more sick COVID patients? Yes, says Brown University expert

As hospitals fill up across the country, they’re sending home a higher percentage of patients to recover on their own, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, writes on Twitter.



Dr. Ashish K. Jha wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health


© The Providence Journal
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health

“There is something funny happening with COVID hospitalizations,” Jha wrote in a multi-thread post late last night.

The percentage of COVID patients getting hospitalized is falling, he notes.

“My theory?” he writes. “As hospitals fill up, (the) bar for admission (is) rising. A patient who might have been admitted 4 weeks ago may get sent home now.”

The change doesn’t affect just COVID patients, but patients with other conditions, too, such as heart problems, or infections, Jha writes.

The pandemic has forced doctors to make difficult choices on who should be admitted and who should be sent home, Jha writes.

“This is not Doctors being cruel,” he writes, but with “fewer and fewer beds, (the) bar for hospitalizing anyone is rising.”

That “likely means more people are suffering, getting worse, or even dying at home.” 

In Rhode Island, with established hospitals filling up, two field hospitals are opening to accept COVID patients.

In the multiple thread tweet, Jha explains a formula that he says until recently could “reliably predict” hospitalizations.

More: Rhode Island opens its two field hospitals as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge and “the pause” begins

More: RI reports 27 COVID deaths, 2,769 more cases over last 3 days

“For months, you could reliably predict new hospitalizations,” he writes. “How? By taking cases 7 days prior, multiplying by 3.5%.”

He explains that 3.5% or (1 in 29) of those diagnosed on a day would typically be hospitalized about seven days later.

That formula held up in September and October, but the percentage showed a slight decline in early November and a bigger drop by the middle of the month.

It dropped to 3.2% by November 8 and showed weekly declines, falling to 2.1% by Nov. 29, Jha writes.

For example, he writes, there were 146,000 new COVID cases reported nationally on Nov. 15. Based on the formula, 5,111 should have been hospitalized by a week later, Nov. 22, but only 3,670 were hospitalized.

“Here’s the bottom line: 1 in 3 people who would have been admitted on October 1 aren’t being admitted by November 22. That’s a big change!” he writes. “And given big rise in test positivity – its likely much higher.”

Many patients being sent home “will likely do worse at home.” Some may be OK but others will return to the hospital “sicker or even die at home.”

When the

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Covid exacerbated chronic inequality in schools. Here’s how it hit some kids more than others.

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of most U.S. schools in the spring, students were thrown into new and unfamiliar ways of learning. Special education students and children learning English lost support that their schools struggled to provide online. Many students had no access to computers or the internet and were completely cut off from their teachers.



a close up of an umbrella


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The true toll these disruptions have taken on student learning won’t be known for months or years, but new reports from national education-testing organizations have begun to offer an early look at that impact.

The latest is a report from NWEA, formerly the Northwest Evaluation Association, which analyzed the results of tests given to nearly 4.4 million U.S. students in grades three through eight this fall and found that most fell short in math, scoring an average of 5 to 10 percentile points behind students who took the same test last year.

New report assesses impact of remote learning on kids

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While a majority of students did better than expected in reading — scoring at levels similar to typical nonpandemic years — this wasn’t true for Black and Hispanic students and those who attend high-poverty schools. Those groups of students saw slight declines, suggesting the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing educational disparities, possibly setting children who were already behind their white and more affluent peers even further behind.

“It’s a reason for concern and it’s a reason to really focus our attention on helping catch kids up,” said Megan Kuhfeld, an NWEA senior research scientist and the lead author of the study.

Kuhfeld and her colleagues analyzed scores from NWEA’s MAP Growth assessments, which thousands of U.S. schools give to students multiple times a year to track their progress in math and reading. They found evidence that pandemic-related school closings have robbed some vulnerable students of important skills that could hamper their progress unless their parents and teachers act quickly to help them catch up.

“They could fall further and further behind if they have holes in their learning,” Kuhfeld said, noting that, for example, it’s hard to learn to multiply fractions if you haven’t mastered adding and subtracting them.

But more worrisome than the findings themselves is the fact that they only capture part of the picture. The study was limited by the fact that a high number of students — 1 in 4 — who typically take the NWEA’s widely used MAP assessment in the fall didn’t take it this year.

Detroit principal knocks on doors to make sure students at home aren’t left behind

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Students might not have been tested because they couldn’t connect with their online classes on test day. They might have been absent from school because of illness or quarantines. They might attend schools that decided not to test at all this year, given the many new challenges schools face because of the pandemic. Or the students missing from NWEA’s data

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HES Supports Washington University Employee Emotional Health During COVID Crisis

MIDLAND, Mich., Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — More than 1400 Washington University employees recently participated in a new emotional well-being program developed by HES. The 4-week program emphasizes mindfulness, optimism, gratitude, and connection — giving employees the option to choose activities best suited to their needs during the pandemic and beyond. 

The program, called Work of Art, was rolled out through WashU Wellness Connection, part of the Human Resources’ Employee Experience initiative. “We have a highly diverse population with significantly different challenges at any time, but especially during the pandemic,” explains Emily Page, Senior Employee Wellness Manager. “Jobs range from frontline healthcare workers to faculty suddenly working remotely. We wanted something that gave employees the flexibility to make the experience fit their circumstances.” 

Work of Art, one of HES’s theme-based employee well-being campaigns delivered through web and mobile platforms, enhances resilience and boosts happiness while giving participants tools and resources to thrive at work and in their personal lives. “In the midst of all of this chaos and turbulence, I am feeling centered and calm,” said Julie Mahoney, participant. “Now, meditation is becoming a regular practice and I feel the benefits, which last all day long. I credit Work of Art for that.”

WashU Wellness Connection participants logged more than 32,600 emotional well-being activities throughout the campaign, resulting in significant gains in Flourishing Scale scores. “We want to know the investments we’re making in our employees are having a positive impact,” confirms Emily Page. “With everyone’s life disrupted by COVID and the lingering uncertainty, we don’t want to just add more noise.” 

Work of Art takes advantage of social support techniques including teams, buddies, and an interactive message board. In addition to choosing their priorities from 20 emotional health activities, participants can personalize how they experience progress — using photos of family, friends, pets, and special places to create unique works of art. They can share completed artwork in a virtual gallery for all to see, like, and comment on as well. “I just want to share that I have had several co-workers tell me how timely the Work of Art activities have been for them. They have been dealing with sudden deaths, COVID-19 scares, taking care of family members, and being the rock that holds their family units together. The activities help remind them to appreciate the little things in life” adds Karen Leingang, a member of the Wellness Champion Leadership Team. “Thank you for the change of direction in the employee wellness challenge.”

To learn about Work of Art, HR and well-being professionals can visit myWorkofArt.com.  

About WashU Wellness Connection

The Washington University Wellness Connection program serves over 16,000 faculty and staff, spread across 4 St. Louis campuses, plus satellite clinics and staff at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. The program is designed to help employees thrive at work and outside of work. For more information, visit WashU’s Wellness Connection at https://hr.wustl.edu/wellness-connection or contact [email protected]

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College basketball schedule: COVID cancellations, updates

We’re in the first weeks of the 2020-21 college basketball season, but the sport has already seen a a slate of games canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

No. 2 Baylor had its matchup with Seton Hall canceled on Nov. 29 and pulled out of last week’s Empire Classic, and the cancellations extend past the Big 12. The SEC, Big Ten and Big East have also experienced cancellations over the last week, and the pattern is likely to continue through December. As the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States, the NCAA is far from immune.

So which games will be canceled at the start of December—and, in some cases, scheduled in their place? Check out our college basketball cancellation and updates tracker below: 

Dec. 1 — Maryland men’s basketball team’s game vs. Towson has been canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test among Towson Tier 1 support staff personnel.

Dec. 1 – UC Riverside vs. Fresno State has been canceled. UC Riverside will instead play Washington.

Dec. 2 – Wake Forest’s matchup with Troy has been canceled as the Demon Deacons have paused all basketball activities.

Dec. 2 No. 21 Oregon has added a game with Missouri at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Dec. 3, 5 — Boise State and New Mexico’s planned two game-series this week has been postponed.

Dec. 7 — Arizona has rescheduled its game with Northern Arizona for this date.

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University of Nottingham says any students breaching Covid rules will be ‘fast tracked’ to exclusion

The University of Nottingham has said students breaking Covid rules could be ‘fast-tracked’ to exclusion after police broke up a 200-strong party at a hall of residence.

A police investigation is ongoing after footage surfaced showing huge crowds dancing to loud music – before spilling out to the front of the halls to continue the party. 

Officers were called to St Peter’s Court in Radford, Nottingham, on Saturday night but police were unable to make any arrests as the revellers quickly dispersed.  

The university echoed the force’s words after they broke up the party, saying there was ‘no excuse’ for flouting the coronavirus regulations.

The city was forced into Tier 3 restrictions before the national lockdown after it was found to have one of the highest coronavirus case rates in the country.

Nottingham will be placed back into the highest level of restrictions once the tier system is reintroduced on Wednesday.

Investigations are ongoing into the incident, after officers were called to St Peter's Court in Radford, Nottingham, on Saturday night

Shocking footage showed huge crowds dancing to loud music before spilling out to the front of the halls to continue the party

Investigations are ongoing into the incident, after officers were called to St Peter’s Court in Radford, Nottingham, on Saturday night

Commenting on the party, a University of Nottingham spokeswoman said: ‘The overwhelming majority of students are following the rules and there are now just 16 cases of Covid-19 reported in a student population of 35,000.

‘However, there is no excuse, we have been abundantly clear that where a minority breach Covid restrictions we will act, in concert with Nottinghamshire Police where necessary.

‘It is vital for the safety of everyone in our community and city that we keep following the guidance and the law.

‘In addition to the fixed penalties issued by police, the University will take disciplinary action.

‘In the most serious cases, students will be fast-tracked to the highest levels of our process where suspension and exclusion are potential outcomes.’

Police said partygoers across Nottinghamshire had their evenings ‘interrupted’ on Saturday, as officers tackled several illegal gatherings and issued multiple fines.

On Sunday, Detective Superintendent Andrew Gowan said: ‘The very last thing we want to be doing as police officers is to be punishing people for gathering together and having fun.

‘However, the current national restrictions are in place to protect the wider public from harm and we will keep enforcing them for as long as we need to.

As well as large crowds gathering mostly outside, many smaller parties were happening inside the student accommodation as well

Nottinghamshire Police said officers were unable to arrest anyone as the crowd dispersed when they arrived, but they were still investigating. Students flout social distancing as they party at Nottingham Uni

As well as large crowds gathering mostly outside, many smaller parties were happening inside the student accommodation as well

‘Whilst it is heartening that the vast majority of people clearly understand and are obeying the current restrictions, it is deeply disappointing that so many others needed such an expensive reminder that the rules apply equally to everyone.

‘We understand that this is a difficult time but there really are no excuses for this kind of behaviour where people are blatantly ignoring the restrictions in such large numbers.’ 

The force said in a statement: ‘Officers were called to a flat in Pilcher Gate, Nottingham, shortly before 10.30pm last night and issued £200 fixed penalty notices to 21 people found inside.

‘Investigations are ongoing to establish the identity of the

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University of Colorado adapting to COVID, future but needs state’s financial support

As many of us struggle with pandemic fatigue, I am reminded of running the mile as a member of the Pequot Lakes High School track team in Minnesota. As I completed the third of four laps, I debated whether to lay down on the ground and writhe in pain or press on. Suddenly I got a second wind. I was filled with renewed energy and nearly sprinted the last lap, setting the school record. We all need a second wind to emerge from this pandemic and prepare for what lies ahead.

It is wonderful to see vaccines advancing, including one developed by Moderna, for which the CU Anschutz Medical Campus hosted clinical trials. Though the end may be in sight, much effort will be required before it arrives.

We at CU have learned and adapted this year as we delivered on our missions to teach and discover while keeping our communities safe. We will continue to collaborate closely with public health professionals as we close out our fall semester and look toward spring. Beyond the urgent matters of the moment, we must recognize the coronavirus has not changed the future, only accelerated its arrival. None of us has the luxury of waiting for COVID to be fully under control before we prepare for tomorrow.

I draw other lessons from my time on the Pequot Lakes track team. Our strongest race was a mile relay, where four runners ran 440 yards each. Efficient hand-offs were as important to winning as the pace of individual runners, and we practiced them over and over. Like our relay team, our success as a university and state hinges on close teamwork.

The pandemic has quickened the trend toward digitization to hyper-speed. Case in point: the time we spend in video meetings these days. Digitization will turn every industry upside down, requiring transformation for many organizations. As automation accelerates, the success of individuals and our state’s economy will require more college graduates, along with skills
transformation for those in the workforce. Universities and companies are increasingly offering supplementary credentials to meet the needs for foundational career skills and lifelong learning.

Yet for the past decade, total attendance nationwide at two- or four-year colleges has declined, with on-campus enrollment declining at a steeper pace while online enrollment has grown, even more so during the pandemic.

Quality online instruction costs as much to deliver – and often more – as on-campus instruction. Only when the scale of online offerings increases do they hold the promise to reduce the cost of higher education. This requires innovation, adaptability and extra effort by faculty, as well as significant institutional investments. Robust state support is crucial to helping us provide the talent Colorado needs to prosper.

We must also recognize our demographic evolution into a majority-minority state and nation. Success demands we get better at attracting, retaining and graduating students from less-represented backgrounds. Last year, we hired the CU system’s first chief diversity officer and made Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access one

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University of Surrey to lower entry grades in recognition of Covid disruption | University of Surrey

The University of Surrey has become the latest higher education institution to lower its entry requirements for next year in recognition of the disruption to education caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Entry grades will be reduced by one grade for most undergraduate programmes starting in September 2021 to help relieve the pressure and anxiety faced by young people who will have had their learning significantly disrupted across two academic years.

Last week the University of Birmingham also announced it planned to reduce entry requirements for 2021 by one grade, meaning pressure on other universities to follow suit is likely to grow.

Lizzie Burrows, the director of recruitment and admissions at the University of Surrey, said: “We are taking this action now to relieve the pressure and anxiety facing this year’s applicants, as they experience ongoing disruption and uncertainty surrounding exams and assessment of their learning.

“By taking this step, we can provide one additional element of certainty and reassurance that these students will be protected from unfair disadvantage as a result of the impact of the pandemic.”

Degree programmes that are not included are regulated courses such as veterinary medicine, foundation year courses, four-year integrated master’s programmes and audition-based performance courses, which will retain the same entry requirements.

Experts have said that GCSE and A-level exams should be replaced with teacher assessments next year because of coronavirus disruption.

The Independent Sage group, chaired by former government chief scientific adviser David King, is calling for all primary school tests to be cancelled and for secondary school exams to be replaced with assessments by teachers with suitable moderation.

In the Commons last week, the education minister, Nick Gibb, said the government was working to ensure 2021 exams were fair, but that more details would be published shortly.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, made a humiliating U-turn this summer over Ofqual’s “centre-assessed grades”, which had used an algorithm to moderate A-level teacher-assessed grades partly in recognition of schools’ historic performance and was widely seen to disadvantage higher achievers at lower achieving schools.

Birmingham University’s vice-chancellor, Prof David Eastwood, last week said many prospective first years in the class of 2021 were likely to experience more than a year of interrupted learning by the time they sat their exams next summer. He said he hoped reducing the entry requirements would “alleviate anxieties”.

Earlier this month, Wales called off end-of-year GCSE and A-level tests for students this academic year. The Labour-controlled government said it would work with schools and colleges to put in place teacher-managed assessments as it was the fairest way given that the time students spend in school or college could vary greatly.

There have been calls for education institutions to work to lower grade requirements for disadvantaged students in particular, since many will have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis.

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College basketball schedule is already being scrambled by covid

The Bears hardly are alone, as this season’s schedule has become increasingly fluid because of the pandemic, with changes happening daily and seemingly sometimes hourly.

The Bears were supposed to begin the season with games Wednesday and Thursday in Connecticut, but those contests were canceled — along with a game Sunday at Seton Hall — after Coach Scott Drew revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But even with Drew still in self-isolation, the Bears boarded a United charter flight bound for Las Vegas on Thanksgiving night ahead of two new games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. They took off not knowing the identity of their first opponent, though it was revealed Friday morning to be Louisiana.

Baylor then will face Washington on Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.

Associate head coach Jerome Tang will coach the Bears in Drew’s absence, according to the Waco Tribune. College basketball journalist Andy Katz reported late Thursday night that Drew will rejoin the Bears in Indianapolis on Monday for games there Wednesday against No. 8 Illinois and Dec. 5 against top-ranked Gonzaga.

Louisiana’s season opener against Loyola of New Orleans, scheduled for Saturday at home, was canceled because of coronavirus issues within the Wolf Pack program, meaning the Ragin’ Cajuns wouldn’t begin their season until Dec. 2 at the University of New Orleans.

Washington originally was supposed to begin its season against Tulane in Shanghai, but that game was canceled in July. Washington also canceled its Husky Classic, a four-team tournament featuring Portland State, San Diego and Cal State Fullerton that was supposed to be this week, leaving the Huskies without any games until a Dec. 3 matchup at Utah.

In Uncasville, Conn., the Mohegan Sun Arena had planned to host 45 “Bubbleville” games between Wednesday and Dec. 5, The Bubbleville concept is being used as a replacement for early-season “multi-team event” tournaments and is patterned after the bubble model successfully utilized by the NBA and WNBA to finish their seasons amid the pandemic. But a number of games scheduled for it already have been canceled.

Temple had to bow out of this weekend’s Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at the casino resort because of coronavirus issues. In stepped No. 3 Villanova, which will replace the Owls as Virginia Tech’s opponent in the event on Saturday. The Wildcats already had played games Wednesday and Thursday at the Empire Classic tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena (the same Empire Classic that Baylor could not attend), and Coach Jay Wright decided to extend their stay by adding the game against Virginia Tech.

“If we can get the game in, why wouldn’t we?” Wright told Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. “We’re already here.”

Stephen F. Austin had to depart the facility within hours of arriving after a support staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, its three scheduled games canceled. Lumberjacks Coach Kyle Keller told the Dallas Morning News that he has been trying to find new opponents, even talking with Drew about

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