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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: Axios reporting; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 57,000 K-12 schools across the U.S. have closed or will close for up to weeks at a time due to the novel coronavirus, affecting at least 25 million students.

The big picture: As school systems face pressure to close, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines admit the closures could significantly pose their own risks and negatively affect the academic outcomes for students.

  • Hong Kong, which closed its schools, has not had more success in reducing spread than places like Singapore that did not.

The state of play: Children do not appear to be at risk for the virus, but there is concern that they could pass it on to older, more vulnerable individuals. Practicing good hygiene and addressing the situation in calm language can help prevent panic or anxiety among children.

  • Depending on whether a positive case was detected in a school district or building, counties can assess the appropriate amount of time off — from two to four weeks or, if needed, four to eight weeks, per the CDC guidelines posted last week.
  • Still, if districts or even entire states decide to include school closures in their mitigation plans, some children can be at a disadvantage if they depend on free-reduced lunch programs for their main meal or if they don't have access to the internet.

What they're doing:

  • In San Francisco, recreation centers and libraries will halt regular programming and operate as emergency care facilities to provide low-income families with recreation, learning and food.
  • After much debate, New York City's public schools system will close after it's become largest hot spot for coronavirus cases in the U.S.
  • The Department of Education announced several measures last week that would temporarily relax federal accountability standards for states on annual testing.

What's next: "While we have data that can contribute to decisions about when to dismiss schools, there is almost no available data on the right time to re-start schools," per the CDC.

The bottom line: In classrooms, children can ideally be graded on an equal level. But as teachers depend on millions of students to learn from home, the factors that come with that new reality — like inadequate meals, lack of internet access and general distractions — could sink some students' performance levels.

Go deeper

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

In CPAC speech, Trump says he won't start a 3rd party

Trump at CPAC on Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Courtesy of C-SPAN.

In his first public speech since leaving office, former President Trump told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he would not start a third party because "we have the Republican party."

Why it matters: The former president aims to cement himself as Republicans' "presumptive 2024 nominee" as his top contenders — including former members of his administration — face the challenge of running against the GOP's most popular politician.