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, asked the state’s Supreme Court to declare a protest scheduled for Saturday in Sydney illegal. On Friday the state court accepted the police’s argument and refused permission for the Sydney protest to proceed. 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.

  • 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.

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey revoked a much-debated weekend lockdown, citing “social and economic consequences.” The country’s Interior Ministry had said residents would be confined to their homes during the weekend, but Mr. Erdogan said complaints from citizens had made him re-evaluate the decision.

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 is happening in the United States:

  • 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.

  • Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, plans to lay off nearly 700 employees this summer at its factories in Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina. The company is also trying to find buyers for the factories by mid-July, and expects to close them if it can’t.

  • 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.

Mosques reopen for prayer in Jakarta, with limited numbers and masks in place.

Mosques opened for midday prayer on Friday in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, for the first time in more than two months, but with social-distancing protocols, temperature checks, face masks and plenty of hand sanitizer.

Prominently posted rules required that worshipers bring their own prayer rugs and keep their sandals with them in a plastic bag. Mosques were limited to half their normal capacity, and some people arrayed themselves diagonally as if on a human checkerboard.

President Joko Widodo, who is eager to move the country forward to what he calls a “new normal,” attended prayers at Baiturrahim Mosque inside the Jakarta presidential palace complex. It can hold 750 people, but attendance was limited to 150.The president wore a gray mask and had his temperature checked on the way in.

Jakarta’s governor, Anies Baswedan, who has often been at odds with the president over how to handle the pandemic, attended Friday prayers separately at Fatahillah Mosque at City Hall.

Midday prayers on Friday are the most important of the week for Muslims.

Mr. Anies announced the reopening of the city’s mosques on Thursday and set out a schedule for gradually reopening offices, restaurants and malls this month.

Indonesia has reported nearly 30,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 1,700 deaths.

A one-on-one concert to lift spirits suffering in isolation.

Patrick Kingsley, an international correspondent, and Laetitia Vancon, a photojournalist, are driving more than 3,700 miles to explore the reopening of the European continent after coronavirus lockdowns. Read all their dispatches.

To circumvent the restrictions enforced on society by the pandemic, cultural institutions have mostly turned to the internet. Museums have held online panels, theaters have streamed plays on their websites, and orchestras have uploaded their back catalogs.

In Stuttgart, Germany, two state-funded orchestras — the Stuttgart State Orchestra and the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra — are trying to do something more personal. They’ve settled on a series of one-on-one concerts in which one orchestra member plays for one audience member, without ever speaking to them.

After applying to attend online, concertgoers are then allocated a slot in one of 27 sites around the city. They include Stuttgart’s deserted airport, an art gallery, the garden of a private villa — and the terrace beside the vineyard, where Claudia Brusdeylins, a 55-year-old publicist for a renewable energy research group, heard a rendition of “Greensleeves.”

The audience of one arrives with no knowledge about the music that awaits him or her, or the performer or instrument that will provide it. The person simply is asked to sit down opposite the musician, and to lock eyes with the player for 60 seconds.

Then the musician plays for 10 minutes — sometimes squeezing in two or three pieces. They tend to arrive having rehearsed a handful of potential pieces, but change the final selection for each performance. Ms. Brusdeylins was subsequently treated to part of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.

Finally, the concertgoer stands up and leaves without applauding, usually wordlessly. There is no ticket fee, but attendees can donate instead to a fund for freelance musicians left without an income by the crisis.

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



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