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Live Coronavirus Updates: Bleak Picture of Academic Loss

Racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps among students will most likely widen.

New research suggests that by September, most students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms, with some losing the equivalent of a full school year’s worth of academic credit. The disruption to education caused by the pandemic is likely to widen racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections and direct instruction from teachers.

Teachers and parents are worried about how much children are losing out, our correspondent Dana Goldstein writes.

In Aurora, Colo., Clint Silva, a seventh-grade social studies teacher, was planning to spend the spring working with his students on research skills. For one remote assignment, he asked them to create a primary source about the pandemic that future historians could consult.

But only a minority of his students have consistently engaged with remote assignments. “We know this isn’t a good way to teach,” he said.

Students could begin the next school year having lost as much as a third of their expected progress from the previous year in reading and half of their expected progress in math, according to a working paper from NWEA, a nonprofit organization, and scholars at Brown University and the University of Virginia.

When all of the impacts are taken into account, the average student could fall seven months behind academically, while black and Hispanic students could experience even greater learning losses, equivalent to 10 months for black children and nine months for Latinos, according to an analysis from McKinsey & Company, the consulting group.

Economists surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show that employers cut 8.5 million jobs in May, down from more than 20 million in April, and that the unemployment rate hit 19.8 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression.

Many economists expect that May will be the nadir for the job market and that unemployment will begin to ease as states reopen and businesses call employees back to work. But it will take far longer for the economy to climb out of the hole than it did to fall into it.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that nearly 1.9 million Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, continuing the decline from the more than six million who submitted applications in a single week in March but still a remarkably high level.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia has warned people against attending protests this weekend, saying that a large gathering could sabotage the country’s efforts to control the outbreak.

“Let’s find a better way, and another way, to express these sentiments rather than putting your health at risk, the health of others at risk,” Mr. Morrison said on Friday.

The protests are being organized in solidarity with those in the United States over the killing of George Floyd, who was handcuffed and pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer, but they also focus on the country’s own problems with police brutality and racial discrimination toward Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians are incarcerated at a disproportionately higher rate than others, and more than 400 of them have died while in police custody since 1991.

The police in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, have asked the state’s Supreme Court to declare a protest scheduled for Saturday in Sydney illegal. They had initially approved the event, but turnout is expected to reach into the tens of thousands — well above the 500-person limit set by the police.

“Instead of using guns to stop us, like in the U.S., they use the laws to stop us,” Raul Bassi, one of the event organizers, told The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday. “We will put forward our case this afternoon and see what happens.”

Officials in Melbourne said that organizers would be fined if a planned protest on Saturday breached the state of Victoria’s 20-person limit.

But in South Australia, the police in Adelaide have granted residents an exemption to protest. “This is a unique and extraordinary event,” the state’s police commissioner, Grant Stevens, said on Friday. “There is a sentiment that suggests people should have a right to protest on significant matters.”

Australia, which imposed strict social-distancing restrictions and closed its borders in the early days of the outbreak, has largely avoided the worst of the outbreak. As of Friday, it had reported 7,240 cases and 102 deaths.

In other developments around the world:

  • South Korea reported 39 new cases in and around Seoul, where a recent wave of infections had been traced to nightclubs and an e-commerce warehouse.

  • In Spain, the government was expected to announce on Friday a further easing of its lockdown that would allow restaurants and bars to serve customers indoors, among other measures.

  • Mosques in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, reopened for Friday prayers, but with rules on face masks and social distancing.

  • In Hong Kong, thousands of people flouted social distancing rules on Thursday as they gathered to memorialize the Tiananmen Square massacre.

  • In Britain, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Thursday that it had struck a deal with a vaccine manufacturing giant, Serum Institute of India, to produce a billion doses of a potential virus vaccine for distribution to low- and middle-income countries.

Two large studies on Covid-19 were retracted on Thursday by the scientific journals in which they had appeared, because the authors could not verify the data on which the results depended.

The studies, published in The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine in May, had produced astounding results and altered the course of research into the pandemic.

The Lancet paper reported dismal findings about the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients. It led to the suspension of some clinical trials of the medications, including by the World Health Organization. (Some have since resumed.)

President Trump has repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine despite the lack of evidence that it works against the virus. His endorsement had the effect of politicizing scientific questions that normally would have been left to dispassionate researchers.

The Lancet paper, which was purportedly based on data from a huge, privately held registry of patient records from hundreds of hospitals around the world, had concluded that the anti-malaria drugs were associated with dramatically higher rates of heart arrhythmias and deaths in Covid-19 patients. The database belonged to a company called Surgisphere, which is owned by Dr. Sapan Desai, one of the four co-authors.

Later on Thursday, The New England Journal of Medicine retracted a heart study that was published by the same authors, using data from the same registry. The authors concluded that cardiovascular disease increased the risk of dying among Covid-19 patients.

All laboratories will be required to send demographic data to state or local public health departments based on the individual’s residence, according to details released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Public health experts have criticized the Trump administration for failing to address the disproportionate effects of the virus on communities of color. The new guidelines came as large protests continued across the United States over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died last week in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck.

Here’s what else happened in the United States on Thursday:

  • Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily suspended a trial judge’s rulings requiring the Trump administration to move more than 800 older or medically vulnerable inmates out of an Ohio prison where nine prisoners have died from the virus. An appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Friday.

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said that the city could begin a second phase of reopening “as early as the beginning of July.” Offices, stores and personal-service businesses like barber shops would be allowed to reopen with restrictions.

  • The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, told House lawmakers that the federal government and state health departments needed to dramatically increase the number of people tracing the contacts of those infected by the coronavirus. He said that up to 100,000 would be needed by September.

  • A federal appeals court sided with Texas Republicans in their legal battle to restrict voting by mail during the pandemic, striking down a lower-court ruling that would have allowed voters who fear contracting the virus to cast ballots by mail instead of in person.

  • The N.B.A. players’ union is set to consider a proposal to return to play starting next month in Florida, after team owners overwhelmingly approved the plan on Thursday.

Thanks to a virus lockdown, elephants are roaming freely in a Thai national park.

Pandemic lockdowns have given nature a breather around the world, bringing animals to unexpected places.

In Thailand, Khao Yai National Park, the country’s oldest, has been closed to human visitors for the first time since it opened in 1962. The upshot? Its 300 or so elephants have been able to roam freely, venturing onto paths once packed with humans.

With few cars around, the elephants, the park’s dominant species, stroll along roads, chomping on foliage without needing to retreat to dangerous corners of the forest where cliffs meet waterfalls. Rarely spotted animals, like the Asian black bear or the gaur, the world’s largest bovine, have emerged, too.

“The park has been able to restore itself,” said Chananya Kanchanasaka, a national park department veterinarian. “We are excited to see the animals are coming out.”

Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Ben Casselman, Michael Cooper, Ellen Gabler, Dana Goldstein, Andrew Jacobs, Isabella Kwai, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Richard C. Paddock, Roni Caryn Rabin, Nada Rashwan, Kaly Soto, Declan Walsh and Noah Weiland.


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