‘Generational Catastrophe’ Possible as Pandemic Creates Education Crisis

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says with schools being forced to shut their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, the world is facing a “generational catastrophe.” Guterres made the comments Tuesday during a video briefing to launch a new U.N. campaign dubbed In this file photo taken on Feb. 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference at the African Union headquarters.The head of the world body said that as of mid-July, more than 1 billion children in at least 160 countries are missing out on formal studies, while at least 40 million children have missed out on pre-school.  Guterres said disabled students, members of minority or disadvantaged communities, as well as refugees and displaced persons, are among those at highest risk of being left behind. The secretary-general noted the world was already in a “learning crisis” before the pandemic, with 250 million children worldwide out of school.  “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,”  he said.FILE – Fairfax County Public School buses are lined up at a maintenance facility in Lorton, Va., July 24, 2020.Guterres said getting students back in classrooms “must be a top priority” once the COVID-19 outbreak has been brought under control.  He also called for greater investment in education, with low- and middle-income countries facing an annual funding gap of $1.5 trillion prior to the pandemic, including investments in “digital literacy and infrastructure.” The U.N. chief also said education initiatives must be geared towards those at greatest risk of being left behind.  FILE – Students wear face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in their classroom at the Jean Benoit College in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on June 1, 2020.With the number of confirmed cases around the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, now past 18.2 million — and the number of deaths nearing the 700,000 mark — the director of the World Health Organization has warned there may never be a “silver bullet” for stopping the spread of the coronavirus. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom told reporters Monday that while a number of vaccines are now in late-stage trials, all countries and individuals should employ a  “do it all” strategy — listing testing, contact tracing, social distancing and wearing masks — as some of the necessary things that must continue to be done to stop the spread of the virus.      “A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be”-People line up to enter a supermarket hours before a citywide curfew is introduced in Melbourne, Australia, Aug. 2, 2020.Health officials reported 429 new infections and 13 deaths Monday in Victoria state, which includes Melbourne.  Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews declared Melbourne a COVID-19 disaster on Sunday.     In addition to closing most stores, other industries such as construction and meat production will have to limit their operations starting Friday.   FILE – Police stop drivers at a checkpoint, set up in response to the state of Victoria’s surge in coronavirus disease cases and resulting suburb lockdowns, in Melbourne, Australia, July 2, 2020.Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said Tuesday that an additional 500 military personnel will be deployed to the state this week to help local authorities enforce the new stay-at-home orders, including a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew.  Andrews also said anyone caught violating the orders will face more than $3,500 in fines.  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that workers in Victoria who do not have paid sick leave and have to isolate themselves will be eligible to receive a payment of about $1,000.     Parents and students arrive in their vehicles for health screenings and temperature checks before moving into residence halls at West Virginia State University campus, July 31, 2020, in Institute, West Virginia.In the United States, which has about one-fourth of the world’s confirmed coronavirus cases, negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats failed again on Monday to reach agreement on a new aid package that would include federal money to help the millions of people who are unemployed.      Many Americans have lost their jobs during the pandemic, due to lockdown restrictions and new consumer habits that have badly hurt the economy. A previous round of federal aid that provided $600 a week to the unemployed expired last week.      The talks come as the United States deals with an ongoing surge in cases that began in June and pushed leaders in some states to reinstate some of the restrictions they had lifted in hopes that economic activity could return without a resurgence of the virus.     President Donald Trump holds up a signed Executive Order on hiring American workers, during a meeting with U.S. tech workers, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Aug. 3, 2020, in Washington.U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Monday a “permanent lockdown” policy is not a “viable path forward” in combating the coronavirus pandemic. He noted that other countries have seen a resurgence in cases after lockdowns.  The president lashed out earlier Monday at Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, who said the U.S. had entered a “new phase” of the pandemic during an interview the day before on the U.S. cable news network, CNN.  Trump said Dr. Birx’s comments  that the coronavirus is spreading uncontrollably were meant to appease House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has criticized the administration’s handling of the crisis.  The president tweeted that Birx “took the bait” and called her “pathetic.”  So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, speaks at the White House, April 29, 2020, in Washington.Fauci said Birx was referring to “community spread,” meaning the virus is spreading randomly instead of being concentrated in one spot.   “When you have community spread, it’s much more difficult to get your arms around that and contain it,”  Dr. Fauci said.    Richard Green, Megan Duzor, Chris Hannas    contributed to this report.     


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