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COVID: US schools open or not, students of colour bear the brunt | News

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Racial inequality in the United States has become a defining feature of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent data, in terms of its health and economic impact, as well as its effect on education.

As schools are set to reopen across the country in various forms, Black and Latino children will be disproportionally affected, regardless if schools remain physically closed or if they reopen.

According to recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), children of colour are more likely to fall behind the longer they stay home from school because they have limited access to critical resources and their parents have more health and economic fears – raising concerns that the pandemic will only exacerbate inequities in American society.

Low-income children, who are mostly Black and Latino, struggle for access to computers and internet service. They also face pressures at home that wealthier, mostly white families do not. Black and Latino parents are more worried than white parents that their children will fall behind in school, and fear they will be unable to work, even from home, while supervising children.

A worker cleans the walls in a classroom at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, 2020 in Provo, Utah. [George Frey/Getty Images/AFP]

 Parents of colour are also more worried than white parents about losing the other benefits that schools provide, like social services and food.

With coronavirus infections still rising across many states in the country, many school districts are planning to start the school year either fully or partially online. 

President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has made plain his desire to see schools reopen in the fall so that parents can get back to work and help the US economy bounce back after a shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that strongly supported schools reopening this academic year, arguing children learn best when they are physically in their classrooms.

But many local leaders said the health risks are too great. Although children do not get particularly sick from COVID-19, less is known about how much they can spread it to others, raising worry about the health of teachers and school employees.

Further reflecting the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of colour, 91 percent said they are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about their child getting sick with coronavirus if they return to school this school year, compared with 55 percent of white parents, according to the KFF poll published on Monday.

Olivia Chan's father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J. School districts that plan to reopen class

Olivia Chan’s father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

 And 73 percent of parents of colour are worried about their children falling behind academically, while 65 percent of parents of colour were worried losing income if they cannot go to work, compared with 41 percent of white parents. 

There is also evidence that learning loss will probably be greatest among Black and Latino students, who are less likely to have access to high-quality remote learning or to a conducive learning environment, such as a quiet space, their own devices, high-speed internet and parental supervision.

According to an analysis by McKinsey, students will likely lose on average 6.8 months of learning if in-class instruction does not resume until January 2021. But Black students may fall behind by 10.3 months and Latino students by 9.2 months.

But as half-dozen US states reporting record numbers for coronavirus deaths, a bitter political debate is raging about the reopening of schools in the coming weeks.

While Trump and members of his administration continue to push for students to return to class, many teachers and local officials continue to call for online learning.

On Tuesday, one of the largest teachers’ union in the country, said it was authorising its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures.

Teachers

A high school teacher holding a sign during a protest calling for schools to enforce mask-wearing and to implement other safety measures in advance of schools reopening in Salt Lake City, Utah [AP Photo/Rick Bowmer] 

“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said during the union’s virtual convention on Tuesday. “But if authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table.”

The group said school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4.3 million Americans have contracted the virus, and more than 149,000 have died, leading the world in both figures.

Further highlighting the tension around the issue, while school districts in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Houston have announced they will all begin the school year online only, the Texas Education Agency, the state’s overseer of public education, said it would deny funding to schools that delay in-person classes because of orders by local health authorities related to the pandemic.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance that health authorities cannot impose “blanket” school closures for coronavirus prevention. Any such decision is up to school officials, he said.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss

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Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.





Source – observer.ug

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