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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

COVID-19 and the digital divide have taken a severe toll on Latino students' education, from the U.S. to Patagonia.

The state of play: In the U.S., Latinos students have fallen considerably behind during the last year, while in Latin America dropout rates are rising.

Why it matters: With the end of the school year approaching, the extent of the learning deficit from the move to virtual classes and the work needed to help students catch up is becoming clearer.

  • U.S. Latinos started the semester up to five months behind in math and a month behind in reading, a lag that will probably grow, according to research from McKinsey.
  • More than 114 million schoolchildren in Latin America are still without in-person classes and many might permanently abandon their studies after this school year, UNICEF estimates.

Between the lines: Reports of cartels and gangs recruiting children in Colombia and Mexico are on the rise.

  • Up to 5.2 million Mexican students — including those college-aged — have dropped out, per the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.
  • At least 158,000 Colombian K-12 kids left school during 2020, according to the Education Ministry.
  • Officials also fear a spike in unwanted teenage pregnancies, partly due to girls being stuck at home with their abusers, forcing them to drop out.

The big picture: Much of the problem stems from a digital divide that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 40% of Hispanic homes in the U.S. had no computer or broadband access; 25% of Latinos depended solely on smartphones to connect.
  • Nearly half of U.S. classrooms have begun reopening for in-person classes, though some districts remain closed as teachers seek extra COVID-19 protection. Some predominantly Latino districts, hard-hit by COVID-19, remain closed to allow students and staff to mourn family deaths.
  • A majority of Latin America’s classrooms remain closed, and almost half the homes don't have wi-fi.

Go deeper

Aug 27, 2021 - Health

U.S. opens COVID-19 vaccination site for arriving Afghans

Refugees board buses that will take them to a processing center after they arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. has set up a coronavirus vaccination site for Afghans arriving at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a White House official told Axios.

State of play: Upon arrival, all Afghan evacuees are first tested for the virus and vaccines are then offered to those who test negative. The Federal Emergency Management Agency set up the vaccination site at the Dulles Expo center, and the vaccines are being administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House official said.

Aug 27, 2021 - Health

Report: COVID origin inconclusive but probably not engineered

Photo: Timur Matahari/Contributor via Getty images

COVID's origin is still inconclusive, according to an unclassified intelligence report publicly released Friday.

Driving the news: Chinese officials had no knowledge of the virus prior to its initial outbreak, according to the report, though it doesn't rule out the lab leak or animal transmission theories. The intelligence community "remains divided."

Aug 27, 2021 - Health

NBA staff must be vaccinated if around players, referees

Fully vaccinated fans are seen in the vaccinated section of the stadium during the NBA Play-In Tournament game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on May 19. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The NBA said Friday that all personnel who will be in close proximity to players and referees must be fully vaccinated, according to a company memo shared with Axios.

State of play: This includes anyone who travels with teams, those who are around the bench areas and those who have access to the locker rooms. Team staff must be vaccinated by Oct. 1.