UN chief warns world faces ‘generational catastrophe’ due to COVID-19 school closures

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday that the world faces a “generational catastrophe” as so many schools have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest disruption to education ever,” the UN chief said.

One billion students were left without classrooms when schools were closed in 160 countries around the world and 40 million children “were out of school during their critical preschool year,” he said. -he declares.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference in Addis Ababa on February 8, 2020.MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP – Getty Images

“We are now facing a generational catastrophe that could squander untold human potential, undermine decades of progress and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,” said Gutteres. “Getting students back to schools and learning settings in the safest possible way must be a top priority.”

The pandemic has killed nearly 700,000 people around the world.

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In the United States, the question of how and when schools should reopen has pitted politicians against parents against teachers, while President Donald Trump has pushed for a quick reopening of schools even as arithmetic mocks his prediction that the pandemic would “just go away.”

“They are dying, that’s right,” Trump said of the skyrocketing death rate in an interview recorded last week with Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “And you have – that’s what it is.”

Now the United States is approaching 5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 156,000 deaths, the two largest numbers in the world, according to the latest count from NBC News.

Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Arizona – all states (except Louisiana) led by Trump-loyal Republican governors who reopened before local health officials could flatten the coronavirus curve – saw the biggest increases in the number of new cases in the past two weeks when adjusting for the population, NBC News calculated.

It’s so bad in Texas that the Dallas public school system, which serves more than 155,000 students, has pushed back its reopening date to next month.

“We would love to be open, but that sounds very questionable,” Michael Hinojosa, director of the Dallas Independent School District, said on MSNBC. “We will have to examine, assess the numbers. But we were supposed to start on August 17th, and the board helped bring it down to September 8th. “

Even states like New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio, which are led by Democratic and Republican governors who have not followed Trump’s lead and have slowed the spread by shutting down the economy and schools early, are now reimposing restrictions because their numbers are increasing again.

In those states, the main culprits appeared to be quarantine-tired young people and others who refused to follow recommendations from Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the disease, such as wearing masks. and the practice of social distancing.

While Trump has rarely seen wearing a mask in public, Republican leaders have now reluctantly joined Democrats in urging their constituents to don them and – unlike the President – they have led by example.

In other developments:

  • The Trump administration intends to provide nursing homes with rapid COVID-19 testing machines. But the Associated Press has found a trap. “The government will not provide enough test kits to verify staff and residents beyond a few initial rounds,” the AP reported. Why is this a big deal? Because about 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths were elderly residents in nursing homes. “I think the biggest fear is that the instruments might be delivered, but it will be pointless if you don’t have the test kit,” said George Linial, who advocates on behalf of non-profit nursing homes. lucrative.
  • Less than a third of Americans trust what Trump says about the pandemic, according to a new NBC News / Survey Monkey weekly tracking poll. Of those who believed Trump, most are Republicans. In contrast, a majority of Americans (51%) said they trusted Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a frequent target of Trump, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( 55%). to provide accurate information about the crisis, although many GOP voters do not believe in the Fauci or the CDC.
  • Many American universities were stunned when the pandemic hit because they continued to hire and build booms as enrollments plummeted and some schools faced sexual abuse, counting and paying huge settlements, according to one. article produced in partnership with the Hechinger report. . Today, the most affected schools are forced to lay off staff and cut programs to avoid going bankrupt. “What this whole crisis has done to higher education is simply exposed the cracks that have existed for more than a decade of financial mismanagement,” said Fernanda Borges Nogueira of the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank that advocates to make colleges affordable and more accessible.
  • The famous Indianapolis 500 race is a trial run, but there will be no one in the stands to cheer on the drivers. “It is with great regret that we announce that the 104th Indianapolis 500 race will take place on August 23 without fans,” the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said in a statement. The original plan was to limit participation to 25 percent. But the coronavirus crisis has worsened in Indiana, especially in Marion County, where the track is located and the number of cases has tripled in recent weeks. “While accommodating spectators at a limited capacity with our strong plan in place was appropriate at the end of June, it is not the right way to go given the current environment,” said the speedway.
  • A grieving Texas widow blamed Trump, her state governor Greg Abbott, and “ignorant, self-centered and selfish people” who refuse to wear masks for the coronavirus death of her 79-year-old husband, David Nagy. “The responsibility for his death and the deaths of all other innocent people lies with Trump, Abbott and all the other politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were more concerned with their popularity and their votes than with their lives.” , wrote Stacey Nagy in a scathing obit. Also guilty, she wrote, are all those who insisted that “their ‘right’ not to wear a mask was more important than to kill innocent people. Dave did everything he was supposed to do, but you didn’t. Shame on you all, and may Karma find you all! ”

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