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Report: Remote learning hurts minority, low-income children the most

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According to new data released by a San Francisco school district, low-income students have fallen further behind than higher-income students during the coronavirus pandemic.

Black, Latino and Asian students in San Francisco as well as students from low-income families have lost significant academic ground compared to wealthier and white students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The study also found that Black and Latino students were more likely to be absent at least 60% of the time during the fall semester.

910 of the district’s 53,000 students missed more than 60% of classes, the district said. 70% of those were from low-income families and 75% were Black or Latino.

“There are so many kids in this pandemic who just haven’t been heard from at all,” UCSF director of COVID response Dr. Jeanne Noble said to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nobel added that reopening schools is critical and can be done safely. “Every place you look — signs of social phobia and isolation all the way up to suicide attempts — screams crisis.”

The school district is working hard to reopen its doors to all students, but the district has yet to reach an agreement with labor unions on the conditions required to reopen. They hope to bring the youngest and most vulnerable students back first, after the health department inspects the school and classrooms.

“We are concerned the gap has widened, especially in elementary schools,” San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said. “We know remote doesn’t replace in person when it comes to serving our students. We want to return to (school) sites as quickly as possible.”

The district recently announced that it is unlikely the vast majority of middle and high school students will return this school year.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen has proposed a plan to help address the learning loss and other impacts of the pandemic on children.

Her plan includes raising upward of $2 million from public and private funding to pay for summer school, tutoring, smaller class sizes or any resources needed.

The school district’s data is “devastating, and it’s a call to action,” she said. “We are failing them right now as a society. This is families of color having the least secure housing, the least secure jobs. If you’re a parent and you’re worried about keeping a roof over the head of your child and putting food on the table, that’s going to take precedent over remote learning.”

“Let’s all wake up and stop pointing fingers at each other and start working together to address this head-on.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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