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Axios' Mike Allen (L) and Microsoft President Brad Smith (R). Photo: Axios.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Microsoft President Brad Smith at an Axios event on Thursday called for expanding access to broadband in the United States in order to close the digital divide in education.

What they're saying: "Broadband needs to be a fact of life in the United States and it needs to be free for everyone, and it needs to be regulated in a way that it can be made equitably distributed all throughout America," Weingarten said during a discussion on the Future of Employability.

  • "The kids that lack broadband connection in May are probably going to lack it in September as well. If someone was in a home that didn't have enough digital devices to go around, they may still be facing that same problem as they start school in a couple of weeks," Smith said.
  • "For a country for whom I think universal public education has been a defining value ... Let's build the kind of infrastructure that will enable all of our kids to do homework after school, and if we face another epidemic or pandemic we'll be prepared in a way we are not right now," he added.

The big picture: Schooling from home has highlighted unequal access to high-speed internet and a lack of devices for many American students, most often from low-income homes. While many schools are moving towards in-person classes this fall, others are continuing with virtual school, extending the issue into a new school year.

Editor's note: This Axios Event was sponsored by Microsoft.

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Nov 27, 2020 - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.

In photos: Black Friday shopping across the U.S.

Customers shop at Macys on Nov. 27 in New York City. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Many Americans braved shopping malls and department stores to shop in-person on Black Friday.

Why it matters: Coronavirus infections are still on the rise across much of the U.S. during a season of travel and holiday gatherings. Hospitals across the country, especially in rural areas, are still overwhelmed.

Updated Nov 27, 2020 - Sports

NFL reschedules Thanksgiving matchup for second time due to COVID outbreak

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL has once again postponed a Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup originally scheduled for primetime on Thanksgiving day due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: It's the first time the league has had to scrap a game since October, as the U.S. copes with another surge in coronavirus infections heading into the holidays.