Coronavirus: Millions of kids in US told full return to school unlikely anytime soon

Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs.

Registered nurses Army Capt. Rachel Curtis, right, and Capt. Christa Angelotti, with the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, sets up a patient board inside a wing at United Memorial Medical Center, Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Houston. Soldiers will treat COVID-19 patients in the newly setup hospital wing as Texas receives help from across the country to deal with its coronavirus surge. (AP)

Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs.

It came as many states – particularly in the Sunbelt – struggled to cope with the surge and governments worldwide tried to control fresh outbreaks. In a sign of how the virus is galloping around the globe, the World Health Organization reported nearly a quarter-million new infections in a single day.

In the U.S., teams of military medics were deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals deluged by coronavirus patients. The two most populous states each reported roughly 10,000 new cases and some of their highest death counts since the pandemic began. Big numbers in Florida, Arizona and other states also are helping drive the U.S. resurgence that’s forcing states to rethink the school year.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria for school reopenings that makes classroom instruction unlikely for most districts. The Democrat’s rules mandate that students above second grade and all staff wear masks.

Texas gave public schools permission to stay closed for more than 5 million students well into the fall. Under the guidelines, schools can hold online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks, potentially pushing a return to campus in some cities until November.

Most Chicago children would return to the classroom just two days a week and spend the other three days learning remotely under a tentative plan outlined by officials from the nation’s third-largest school district. A final decision for fall classes for the district’s more than 300,000 students won’t come until late August.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, announced she will override school districts and require students to spend at least half of their schooling in classrooms, drawing criticism from the state teachers union.

The uncertainty about the way to safely restart schools has parents like Ivette Garcia of Orange Park, Florida, struggling with what to do. When she learned her school district only had two options this fall, in-person or virtual lessons, she decided to keep her kindergarten son home. She plans to schedule instruction before and after work, with her parents reinforcing education in between.

“The schools’ start date is less than 30 days away. And I don’t feel that there’s a very great plan in place that makes me feel comfortable enough to send my baby to school and then return back to our family dynamic,” Garcia said.

Several states have been reporting record numbers of COVID-19 this week, contributing to a surge in the national death rate. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths has risen 34% from two weeks ago, while the case count in that period shot up 43%.

Texas reported a record 174 new deaths, and more than 10,000 additional cases for the fourth consecutive day. California’s nearly 10,000 confirmed cases were its third-highest daily total, and it recorded 130 deaths during a week of seesawing infection numbers.

Florida reported 128 new deaths Friday and 11,345 additional cases.

There were signs across the Sunbelt that the virus was stretching authorities’ capacity to respond. The medical examiner’s office in metro Phoenix has gotten portable storage coolers and ordered more to handle an influx of bodies – reminiscent of New York City at the height of the pandemic there.

In Houston, an 86-person Army medical team worked to take over a wing of United Memorial Medical Center. In California, military doctors, nurses and other health care specialists were being deployed to eight hospitals facing staffing shortages.

Some hospitals in South Carolina also were being squeezed: The number of patients with COVID-19 is increasing rapidly, while nurses and other workers are getting infected when they are off work, said Dr. Wendell James, a senior vice president with Prisma Health who is based in Greenville.

“The majority of the illness we see in our nursing staffs and our support staff is community spread,” he said. “Almost all of it I can’t control.”

In Florida, Miami-area authorities began stepping up enforcement of a mask requirement. Code and fire inspectors have authority to issue tickets of up to $100 for individuals and $500 for businesses not complying with guidelines to wear masks and practice social distancing. Police already had that power.

Shaun Alley, assistant manager of Blue Collar, a Miami comfort food restaurant, said all of the customers eat outside on picnic tables and are asked to wear masks when not eating.

“We tell people flat out: ‘Either you comply or we have the right not to serve you,'” he said. “We haven’t had any issues so far.”

At least half of all states have adopted requirements for wearing face coverings.

But in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has banned cities and counties from requiring face coverings. He sued Atlanta late Thursday to prevent it from defying his order, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was prepared to go to court to maintain the requirement.

Globally, confirmed cases surpassed 14 million, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and COVID-19 deaths topped 600,000. WHO reported a single-day record of new infections: over 237,000. Experts believe that the true numbers are even higher.

India’s total confirmed cases surpassed 1 million Friday, the third-highest in the world – behind the United States and Brazil – and its death toll reached more than 25,000. That followed an announcement Thursday that Brazil’s confirmed cases exceeded 2 million, including 76,000 deaths.

The surge in India – where experts believe the vast majority of cases are still being missed – drove home concerns over the readiness of some countries to cope with outbreaks that could test feeble health care systems.

In sub-Saharan Africa, which already had the world’s greatest shortage of medical personnel, nearly 10,000 health workers in 40 countries have been infected, WHO said.

Health officials in Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries earlier in the pandemic, asked Barcelona’s 5.5 million residents to stay home as much as possible to stem the virus’s spread.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson charted a different course, announcing that as of Aug. 1, the government would no longer ask people to avoid public transit or work from home.

The U.K.’s official death toll, which stood at more than 45,000, has for several weeks been the highest in Europe.

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விவசாயத்தின் மீது பாரிய நம்பிக்கை கொண்டுள்ளதாக தைப்பொங்கல் வாழ்த்துச் செய்தியில் ஜனாதிபதி தெரிவிப்பு

John David

A Dutch cultural delegation led by State Secretary for Culture and Media in the Netherlands, Gunay Uslu, will be visiting Sri Lanka from 27th to 31st August. The State Secretary is making a special visit to Sri Lanka to sign the legal document transferring the ownership of the cultural artifacts that will be returned to Sri Lanka later this year. The objects include the famous Lewke’s canon, two Gold kastanes (ceremonial sword), Singalese knives, Silver kastane and two guns. The visiting State Secretary is expected to meet with the senior officials of the Sri Lankan government to mark this historic moment. Legal transfer of ownership will be signed at the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka on Monday 28th August 2023. The delegation will visit a few places with religious and Dutch historic value in Sri Lanka. There will also be a public lecture conducted by the State Secretary on 29th August at 4 pm at the Auditorium of the Department of National Archives of Sri Lanka. (Attendance on pre-registration only!) About the return of cultural artifacts While acknowledging both the tangible and intangible heritage of Dutch colonial times in Sri Lanka, the Netherlands is also critically looking at its own role in the history. In 2021 the Dutch government approved the policy for the return of cultural heritage objects that are in the possession of the Dutch State. The indigenous populations of colonial territories were served an injustice through the involuntary loss of objects that formed part of their cultural heritage, says the Dutch government. Therefore the Dutch government is keen to help rectify this historic injustice by returning cultural heritage objects to their country of origin and by strengthening international cooperation in this area. In December 2022, the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands appointed an independent commission, the Advisory Committee on the Return of Cultural Objects from Colonial Context, chaired by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, to assess and facilitate the return of colonial objects to their respective countries of origin. At the request of Sri Lanka, this committee decided, in July this year, to advise the return of six objects of cultural significance that were wrongfully brought to the Netherlands during the colonial period. About Provenance research In 2021, researchers from both countries studied the provenance (background) of these objects extensively. In 1765, these items were taken as loot by the Dutch from the Kandyan Kingdom during the siege of the Palace. The people of the Netherlands feel a moral obligation to return looted or otherwise wrongfully acquired objects to their rightful owners. Righting the wrongs of the past is needed to heal the historic wounds. The return process is expected to form the basis for further cooperation between the two countries and the cultural institutions concerned. The cooperation will mainly be focused on the exchange of technical expertise, knowledge sharing and education. About the delegation The official delegation will consist of Ms. Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General, Culture and Media in the Netherlands, Ms. Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You (Chairperson, Dutch Colonial Collections Committee) and Dr. Alicia Schrikker (member of the Committee). This committee earlier presented a report with recommendation to the Dutch government regarding the returning of colonial artifacts.


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