Who's ready for a new round of #OCDSB board meeting tweets? I am!

Reminder: mute this thread and/or the #OCDSB hashtag if you don't want to see these.

Last time I did this, Twitter got weird and put these tweets all over the place, so... sorry. It got messy.

Board! Meeting!
Tonight's #OCDSB meeting is a Committee of the Whole (or COW) meeting, so there are more people in attendance than last time.

There are a few delegations and, notably, Dr. Etches will be there to speak and take questions.
If we get to it, the Universal Screening Tool (to identify giftedness) is up for discussion tonight. This was deferred from a meeting a few weeks ago.

First delegation, Drew Klein, is speaking about mask policies for students and his opposition to them. He believes the policies are well-intentioned but are doing harm. He believes children are suffering behaviourally and psychologically.

He says he cannot believe that parents buy into the fear used by politicians and public health officials.

"I cannot accept the tyranny of the majority."

"The abandonment of rationality has been a predictable symptom of this failed and flawed policy."

Trustee Fisher: "Have you made any outreach to local or provincial officials or to Ottawa Public Health? As you know, they set the guidelines when it comes to the use of masks in our cities and schools."

Delegate: "I have been trying to build my way up from the teacher level to the administrator level and now to the trustee level."

The delegate welcomes suggestions of who else to contact, which Trustee Fisher will provide.

Student Trustee Liu: "What are the discomforts or harms that you're seeing from perhaps your own children or the community around you?"

Delegate's repsonse re: his son - skin issues, headaches, psychological harm, struggling with normalization of masking.

Next delegate is Joel Harden, who would like to share what his office is hearing from staff and community members. He cites avg age of someone in ICU in Ottawa as 35. He respects the vigilance the board has had in following a policy of ensuring students/staff are safe.

He continues that he is concerned about the degree to which staff don't feel safe, particularly in hotspot communities.

"We know this is not an equal-opportunity virus."

He says schools in hotspot communities are at risk.

He adds that it would be difficult to find a comparison in the past few years for the "flood" of communication he has heard on this.

Trustee Blackburn asks if the delegate has any concrete suggestions of what he would like to see changed. She adds a comment that she assumes he is not accusing senior staff of not doing enough.

The delegate expresses concerns that the board has not been provided with the resources it needs.

"We have been contacted by a lot of staff who were scared to go to work today."

Trustee Lyra would like to know how what the delegate has heard from the disability community in particular. The delegate says that is the community he has heard the most from.

(If you are wondering what is happening now, it is some general updates from the Chair and the Director on upcoming events and important dates. Dr. Etches will be on shortly.)

Of note, the Director says that there will be more information coming about what this year's graduation ceremonies will look like for schools. It will be communicated after the April Break.

The Director is now providing a COVID update. She references the increased risk related to VOCs.

"While we're still planning for September, our more immediate focus is ensuring the safety of staff and students at the present time."

Yesterday, the four Directors of Education in Ottawa met with OPH to discuss current caseloads and the safe operations of schools during this week. Dr. Etches advised the board of the letter that was released yesterday.

Dr. Etches provided the board with another letter that clarified that she was not asking for Ottawa schools to close with that letter and that she believes that schools here should stay open.

The Director acknowledges that this is a difficult time. The board has heard it. They recognize that there is significant discomfort, emotion, fear in our communities and our schools.

"We are not blindly ignoring that reality."

Director: "Our job is to listen carefully, but a part of what is needed is to ensure that we continue to rely on evidence, rely on medical information, rely on people who do have the expertise, for making our decisions as we go forward."

The Director adds that the goal at this time is to ensure stability.

She says that there are several conflicting pieces of information must be considered.

She points out that in regions with Sec. 22 in place, Spec Ed students are included in the order, unlike January. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches has been speaking at length today, so her voice is quite hoarse. She'll stay and answer questions as long as she's able.

"Your support would be very welcome to call for stricter measures in the community."

"More is needed."

Student Trustee Liu: "At the peak of January's wave, there were around 1700 active cases. Right now there's around 1800 active cases. If there are more cases in the community right now, why isn't the recommendation for a school lockdown in place?"

Liu acknowledges that there are considerations of harm/drawbacks that come with closing schools, but wonders why there is a difference between January and now.

Dr. Etches points out that in January, there was a stay-at-home order AND school closures.

Dr. Etches says she is focused on getting a stay-at-home order in place first, closing more businesses, because stronger measures are clearly needed.

Schools should be the last to close. She acknowledges that schools may need to be closed at some point. #OCDSB
Trustee Lyra: "What would need to have been different in Ottawa to have closed schools the way Toronto and Peel did? What is the metric that you used to decide that Ottawa should stay open?"

Dr. Etches: "We are looking at the whole context, starting with what's going on in the community."

She says that the community rate in areas like Toronto, Peel, Guelph is higher than in Ottawa.

She is looking at the number of outbreaks in schools, which is stable. #OCDSB
She adds that she is not comfortable with Ottawa's community spread, to be clear, she's simply saying that our rates aren't as high as other areas.

She talks about an increased rate of classes being dismissed for isolation.

"It's a balance. Something we're looking at all the time. If the rate keeps going up in the community, if the number of outbreaks goes up, if the ability to manage the dismissal of cohorts becomes more challenging, and are we able to investigate cases..."

She points out that in other regions like Toronto, the PHU isn't able to manage the investigation of positive cases any more. We're still able to manage those investigations, she says.

Trustee Lyra asks whether vaccines will be required down the road for students to attend school.

Dr. Etches says that the approach with adults so far has been that it is voluntary. She would expect the same with children. So no, not mandatory.

Trustee Scott: "With regard to the screening forms, would there be any merit in adding another question which would ask whether they could affirm whether they and their families had been following public health guidelines for the previous two weeks?"

Dr. Etches says (I think?) that they will look at the form to see if they can reinforce the message of the need to follow these guidelines and protect each other, lower spread, etc. #OCDSB
Trustee Schwartz wants to know if there are any additional safety measures that need to be considered to keep staff and students safe. In particular, she asks about masks. Do we need to be looking at providing PPE/masks of a different level? #OCDSB
Dr. Etches cites studies that have been done showing that surgical masks and cloth masks are fairly comparable, and there are barriers due to barriers like cost, accessibility, supply.

She will take it back to the team to consider. #OCDSB
Trustee Bell is next. She has also spent a lot of time speaking to the community about their fear, concerns.

"How are we applying the lessons learned?"

Are there commonalities in the outbreaks? Ventilation, PPE use, small/crowded rooms?

#OCDSB @justinegbell
.@justinegbell - "Where there have been cases, how are we communicating with the parents? How are we improving those communications to help ease those fears?"

Dr. Etches says that they have set targets of 24 hours to contact those who have been identified as close contacts of positive cases in schools. In some cases, it's down to 4 hours.

If eye protection is worn consistently, that can enable significant exposure risk didn't exist, some educators won't have to be dismissed.

She has heard concerns about lunch spaces and that staff do not always have access to safe spaces to eat. That needs to be improved. #OCDSB
.@justinegbell asks if there have been any outbreaks traced back to improper ventilation. Dr. Etches says there haven't.

Dr. Etches also adds that doors and windows should be open more now that it's nicer out. #OCDSB
Trustee Hough has received a lot of data. Graphs! Like being back in grad school!

The data show a clear pattern that school cases tend to precede increased community spread, and that in areas like Thunder Bay, school closures led to lower transmission.

Dr. Etches points out that the student population tends to be tested more because of school screenings.

She says that students typically get infected outside of schools, in the community.

Yes, closing schools lowers transmission. That's why it's being considered.

Dr. Etches reiterates that closing schools when things like malls are still open would be ineffective.

She also has to consider the harm of closing schools. Lots to balance.

Trustee Campbell speaks to regional/neighbourhood-specific COVID rates. He wonders if school closures are always an all-or-nothing, or would there be a more targeted approach?

Dr. Etches is looking at a targeted vaccination strategy for hotspots. #OCDSB
Sue Gardner is next. Educators are very concerned. Question from members: "Why is there not an immunization plan yet with regards to education workers? What is the plan?"

Dr. Etcher says this is dictated by the provincial government, refers to Phase 2 schedule. #OCDSB
Another question from @SueGard94: "VOCs are being transmitted by children. Without wide uptake of asymptomatic testing, how can she be so sure that transmission is not happening in schools? Especially when students are eating in classes, much like in a crowded restaurant?" #OCDSB
Sorry, I skipped ahead from the vaccine answer too quickly. I kind of spaced. It's been a long day/week/year/decade.

Ultimately, Dr. Etches says the plan re: education workers is not fully developed yet, but thinks there will be *choice* of where they go. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches says that she hopes to offer immunizations *in schools* for staff, as well.

(Personal note: There are many calls for this on social media. IMO, this would be a great call.)

"Age is still the top risk factor," Dr. Etches says.

She hopes to get to essential workers like school staff sooner in the neighbourhoods at highest risk. #OCDSB
Re: asymptomatic carriers, Dr. Etches says that if there was widespread asymptomatic spread, she would expect some of those cases to then become symptomatic.

Re: VOCs, they do appear to transmit more rapidly, cause more severe illness. We are concerned. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches acknowledges that this could become more of what we see in schools. Currently, our percentage of VOCs in Ottawa has been lower than in the GTA. They are taking over.

They have been asking full cohorts in isolation to be tested before returning to school. #OCDSB
Through that, OPH has not found any greater transmission in cases of VOCs than in any other COVID infection. It is still something they are watching because that could change. #OCDSB
I missed a question in here as I waded through notifications. It was about testing. Sorry!

Dr. Etches just said that OPH is almost ready to introduce something like "self-swabbing". #OCDSB
Next is a question from Melanie Barclay-Wood, who (personal note alert!) I have had the pleasure of working with and she is a phenomenal teacher. She is here representing secondary OTs.

She is worried about gaps in notifying OTs of +ve cases they may have been exposed to. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches seems surprised by the idea that someone was not notified, since OPH works with schools to understand who has been in contact with a cohort. Normally they would hear if there had been an OT involved. She would like to discuss more offline. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches says that it's possible that the days the OT was in the classroom were not the days that the +ve individual was infectious.

Trustee Fisher wants to know what more the board can be doing with OPH to target the hotspots in the city? He represents two of the three postal codes identified as hotspots.

Ex: his daughter has been tested five times, sent home three times. Letters home almost daily. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches says that it's hard to change some of the drivers of higher rates. Hard to change poverty, precarious employment, employment that puts one more at risk. OPH working hard to ensure people understand safety measures, providing masks, reiterating distancing. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches mentions the importance of trying to reduce vaccine hesitancy, remind people to take the first vaccine available. Always looking to school boards, teachers, school councils to help with messaging. #OCDSB
(Belated note: Dr. Etches did mention, back a few questions, that OPH is not able to contact all close contacts of all cases, but school cases are a priority. Difficult b/c contract tracing team is smaller now due to vaccine rollout.) #OCDSB
Dr. Etches thinks that schools can be strong partners as the vaccine rollout comes to hard-hit neighbourhoods, says there could even be campaigns in schools to encourage the community to be vaccinated. #OCDSB
David Wildman is expressing similar concerns to a previous speaker, saying that OTs are having difficulty accessing information about positive cases/their risk.

(Personal note: this is also an issue with permanent staff in the building. We get no information.)

Wildman wants to know what we can do to ensure that OTs are not being missed in contact tracing.

Dr. Etches can share the procedures followed to identify who is a high-risk contact and who wouldn't be so that people understand the process/variables considered. #OCDSB
Christine Moulaison would like to know what Dr. Etches thinks that school councils can do - individually and collectively - to assist with getting the message out about vaccinations.

Dr. Etches wants help communicating importance of safety measures, w/ specific examples. #OCDSB
For example, reminding families that outdoors is usually okay, but that it still must include physical distancing. If distancing can't be maintained, then masks should be worn.

(Personal: Can someone come to Kilbirnie Park and pass that message along to everyone who lives here? 'Cause
BIG YIKES, Half Moon Bay.) #OCDSB
Trustee Blackburn has a question about vaccinations and how to get them to people who have no choice but to work outside the home, e.g. grocery store employees, logistics, etc.

Dr. Etches refers to the sequencing document, where "essential workers" are further broken down into groups. The neighbourhood approach will help, she believes.

Trustee Blackburn is concerned about the fact that many of these workers are under 40. #OCDSB
Dr. Etches thinks that it could be May when these groups are reached.

The target is to get every eligible adult vaccinated by end of the school year. She thinks it's possible. #OCDSB
Trustee Lyra has heard from people who believe that NOT closing schools leads people to believe that community spread is not as serious, that they don't need to be as cautious.

Dr. Etches acknowledges that this does happen and is sometimes a reason TO close schools. #OCDSB
Trustee Lyra asks about the neighbourhood approach re: hotspots. Is it only people who live there, or also people who work there?

Dr. Etches says the plan is to open vaccinations to anyone who lives or works in that area. #OCDSB
Trustee Lyra further asks if there has been any consideration to change the vaccination schedule re: age given the age of people in the ICU.

Dr. Etches believes the figure quoted earlier, with the low average age in ICU, is incorrect. #OCDSB
She suspects someone saw the median age figure on the dashboard and misinterpreted it, since the median age of ALL positive cases is 34.

Because of the rapid spread, she says we still need to focus on preventing hospitalization and death. #OCDSB
If there were unlimited supply (*cough* VACCINES IN FREEZERS, ONTARIO *cough*) this would be different, but because supply is limited, they have to prioritize high-risk age groups.

Changes would be a provincial decision.

Trustee Hough is hearing that some students are choosing to stay home for 14 days rather than getting tested. Do we really know what's going in schools if we aren't getting that data?

Trustee Hough: Is there any thought being put into grade 12 students who are going on to live in residence next year being prioritized for vaccinations? Can there be in-school clinics during school year before they're sent off?

Dr. Etches says that is a good idea and she will bring it back to the team for consideration provided the vaccine is opened up to the general public.

Dr. Etches says that of course we don't have the full picture of COVID in schools, but again says that OPH's evidence is that transmission is not happening at school but in the community. Cites studies from other countries showing similar things. #OCDSB
With that, questions for Dr. Etches have come to a close. We return now to the Director of Education, whose briefing was paused earlier when Dr. Etches arrived. #OCDSB
Christine Moulaison has a question for the Director. She mentions how many families are keeping children home this week, including some senior staff and trustees. What can she say to parents to reassure them?

The Director highlights the importance of family choice. #OCDSB
Director: "I can't say to anyone that this is a no-risk situation."

She says that we are following safety measures, and as Dr. Etches mentioned, spread is in the community but not in our schools. #OCDSB
Director: "I don't think it is appropriate for me to say everyone should be following X formula, nor should we be in judgment about how people make their decisions."

Uh oh, friends. My attention is wandering.

Will I make it to the universal screening tool discussion?

I have to. I have big feelings about the gifted program, as a teacher and as a Not So Recovered gifted kid.

COURAGE, I say to myself. I can do this.
I have just gone back and looked at the agenda. I am wondering if we will even get to that discussion tonight.

We are moving onto the Equitable Recruitment and Hiring Policy. #OCDSB
This policy has come from the change in hiring practices at the central/provincial level, where Regulation 274 is no longer in effect for hiring teaching staff.

The board has decided to create one policy to apply to all positions in #OCDSB, not just teaching staff.
Trustee Lyra has some amendments to propose, which also included some grammatical corrections.

There is some snark about the grammatical corrections. Trustee Penney does not feel the time should be spent debating commas.

Trustee Lyra felt she had handled this by providing an amended version ahead of time, which they just decided NOT to use tonight, meaning commas need to be dealt with now.

Trustee Blackburn attempts to interrupt with a point of order to say "adults don't need to debate commas."

(Personal note: For some reason, Trustee Blackburn also refers to Trustee Lyra differently than everyone else does, which does not sit well with me.)

Trustee Lyra points out that this is not a point of order. Trustee Penney agrees.

"Well, a point of something, then. A point of good governance," Trustee Blackburn says.

(This is a very heated discussion about commas, y'all.)

Trustee Scott, as Chair, looks to the Director for guidance about how to proceed since there is a timeline that has to be considered.

The Director thinks that the work can continue but should recognize that grammar is also debatable.

I will spare you the full play-by-play of all of this because I'm sure many of you think this is all an exercise in absurdity.

Instead, please enjoy this sketch my partner made of me many years ago.

I get it, @Lyra_evans_ott. 😂

I will say that I appreciate the critical eye that @Lyra_evans_ott has used in reviewing this policy. Many considerations with respect to marginalized groups to ensure that the language being used is the right language. #OCDSB
"Point of order! Well, I don't know if it's a point of order, but can I ask if it's a point of order?"

The struggle is real.

Giving me real strong #ETFO Annual Meeting vibes.

I've been to so many and I still have to read the descriptions every single day. #OCDSB
Case in point: I truly have no idea what is happening and I go to so many meetings governed by Robert's Rules.

I think they're moving to postpone debate until after a time-sensitive item on the agenda.

I was deeply engrossed in listening to Trustee Boothby read that resolution out loud without realizing that it, too, is in the agenda package.

Apparently 9 pm is where my stamina falls apart.

The trustees are discussing resolutions to bring to the OPSBA annual meeting. #OCDSB
The first motion being discussed is to call on the Ministry of Education for specific supports related to the impact that COVID has had on the education system.

Trustee Lyra wishes the language was stronger - not "recommend" and "advocate" but instead "demand."

Since we just spent a lot of time talking about grammar and punctuation, let's not talk about how I just put that period in the wrong place, mmkay?

Second motion they will bring to the OPSBA annual meeting is to request funding to provide for Research Officers. #OCDSB
While they tally this vote, can I just say that one of my favourite parts of watching meetings like this is paying an abnormal amount of attention to everyone's chosen camera angle, background, and lighting choices?

I do the same thing with friends when I play D&D, don't worry.
THANK YOU, Trustee Ellis, for saying what I was thinking. I do NOT like the way several trustees have been speaking to and about Trustee Lyra.

Comments like "we have to eat this elephant one bite at a time" are unnecessary.

Trustee Ellis is rightly pointing out that court cases have been fought over misplaced commas. He further comments that the language being used by Trustee Penney and others is inappropriate and disrespectful. #OCDSB
(Personal note: It does not feel that the language has changed in any way since that reminder. This is incredibly frustrating to watch. There are many facial expressions that are clearly meant to dismiss Trustee Lyra's corrections.) #OCDSB
Trustee Blackburn seems to be implying that her understanding of how commas work is because she is of "a different generation".

(Personal note: I'm a bit insulted, as someone of Trustee Lyra's generation. I know exactly what she meant by that.) #OCDSB
For the record, we are talking about Oxford/serial commas.

Trustee Lyra is looking to add serial commas to the text for clarity.

Trustee Bell wants to take a recess.

Trustee Blackburn is asking if we can get a legal opinion on whether commas are necessary.

Trustee Schwartz agrees with Blackburn that a legal opinion would be helpful.

(Personal note: Someone literally had to stifle a laugh, so the decorum of this meeting seems to have been thrown completely out the window.)

The Director has said that she does not feel this venue is the appropriate place/time to deal with this and that there are hours of work ahead. Not because of commas, but because of other changes proposed by Trustee Lyra.

Trustees Penney and Scott agree. #OCDSB
Trustee Schwartz says that she believes it is "ridiculous" to be debating the use of commas.

Trustee Ellis asks if there can be some kind of order or speaker's list.

It's a "free for all".

Trustee Ellis suggests just VOTING ON IT.

Trustee Fisher suggests just moving all of the commas en bloc.

Trustee Hough says that each comma may substantively change a sentence.

Trustee Hough asks if they're going to start dealing with it tonight, or do they wait a few days until everyone has "calmed down".

Trustee Bell, for the second time tonight, has asked if the representative from ACE can have an opportunity to speak to the document.

Trustee Scott says that the intention is to defer this debate & reconvene as Committee of the Whole, so they would have an opportunity. #OCDSB
The comma debate has officially been deferred.

I sincerely hope that there are some apologies made to Trustee Lyra following this meeting.

This is not the first time I have felt that she has been targeted by dismissive and disrespectful comments.

I should clarify this, given my feeling that the comments about Trustee Lyra's grammatical adjustments have been inappropriate.

When I said "an exercise in absurdity" here, I was referring specifically to how meetings like this proceed, NOT the debate itself.
For the record, #OCDSB followers, the board lawyer provided an opinion on Trustee Lyra's corrections during the recess. The commas she proposed are consistent with the rest of the document and would be appropriate to add.
I was yelling about decorum and missed the start of the universal screening tool debate. Amy Hannah is providing some background and context for the use of a screening tool to identify gifted students in the board. #OCDSB
The board is looking to address the issue of "missingness" - meaning the well-documented issue of gifted screening/identification not being available to all students, leading to major equity concerns with who is identified, which programs they access, etc. #OCDSB
Cheryl Plouffe is speaking to which tools could be used to conduct this screening, as well as considerations over the point at which screening would be done. It was grade 3 in the past, for example.

The board seems to be leaning toward CCAT, which is what it used before. #OCDSB
The CCAT provides some flexibility that other options don't have. It looks at verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative measures.

There is more work to be done. This is just an update on the work that has been done so far. #OCDSB
Dr. Plouffe discussed using "local norms" during this process as well, such as looking at student achievement within their building and not just board-wide.

Trustee Scott says this has had positive impacts particularly on equity issues in other jurisdictions. #OCDSB
Trustee Ellis has questions about local norms and equity - such as whether there may be different criteria for students to access congregated gifted programs depending on their background/the context. Those decisions haven't been made yet. #OCDSB
Trustee Ellis suggests that in addition to SEAC, they should perhaps also speak with IAC and ACE, since there is an equity consideration to all of this. Superintendent Symmonds will take it under advisement. #OCDSB
Trusee Ellis brings up the issue of some students being misidentified as "behavioural" when they are in fact gifted and "acting out".

This screening would theoretically help to address those issues.

Trustee Ellis supports the idea of the screening tool. #OCDSB
Trustee Campbell: "Do we think that this will be sufficient to overcome the challenges of ELLs and others who may be struggling? If we're administering grade 3/4, is social advantage baked in by then?" #OCDSB
Campbell continues: "One of my concerns is that we may go through all of this and we're not moving the needle, we're just identifying more gifted students."

Dr. Plouffe, in response, stresses the importance of multiple determinants.

Dr. Plouffe speaks to the benefit of learning profiles and being able to customize the approach based on the individual student's needs. Want to make sure there's alignment between information gathered and the program put in place for that student. #OCDSB
My three year old has just woken up unexpectedly, so looks like this is the end of tonight's livetweet journey. Thanks for coming along, #OCDSB!

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More from @rollforlearning

6 Apr
Why are we framing COVID cases in schools as a percentage of how many DON'T have cases? We don't usually talk about public health this way.

We don't say, "37 million people didn't die from cancer last year."

We say, "More than 80,000 people died from cancer last year."

This is important because the way you frame COVID rates in schools can either highlight how prevalent the issue is or downplay it as if it's no big deal.

These are human lives that we are talking about. What matters is the people who ARE sick.
When you say 73% of schools have no active cases, you're implying the 27% aren't a concern, that they aren't the important statistic.

27% of schools DO have active COVID cases. That means more than 1 in 4 schools.

We're allowing the narrative to focus on the wrong thing.
Read 5 tweets
8 Aug 20
I keep thinking about this and I'm honestly so frustrated by these posts about how educators need to "stay positive" for their students because "projecting their fears/sadness/emotions will harm students."

A thread, apparently.

In my career, I have taught through the dissolution of a long term relationship, my mother's cancer diagnosis and treatment, two high risk pregnancies, family deaths, chronic health problems.

And I greet my students with a smile and try to be warm, welcoming, put together.
But some days, it's hard. Some days, your students ask you if you're okay because they can read your body language and can tell you're tired, you're worn out, you're distracted, you're sad. And that's okay. It's okay for them to see their educators as human beings with emotions.
Read 9 tweets
25 Feb 20
One of my biggest concerns about violence in schools, beyond the immediate concern of injury/trauma, is about what will happen to victims of and witnesses to this violence 15+ years down the road.


CW: violence, abuse, assault

#onted #onpoli #etfo #osstf #aefo #oecta
In a nutshell, we are teaching children how to be in abusive relationships. As a survivor of abuse and sexual assault, this is killing me. I don't know how to cope with the guilt and anxiety I feel about the situations these kids are put into.

#onted #onpoli
We tiptoe around volatile students in an effort to prevent them from becoming dysregulated. If a student escalates, the discussion becomes about what everyone else did, where we could have acted differently, where we could have changed our behaviour so as not to set them off.
Read 16 tweets

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