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

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Photo: Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

The Houston and San Francisco public school districts announced Wednesday they will begin the 2020 fall semester online due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: There are over 60,000 students in San Francisco schools and 216,000 in Houston, which is the largest public school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the U.S.

  • The announcements come days after Los Angeles and San Diego — the two largest public districts in California — said they'd be doing the same.
  • President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been pressuring schools to reopen this fall, arguing that kids cannot afford to continue learning from home. Trump on Tuesday called the Los Angeles decision a "mistake."

The state of play:

  • Houston schools will be teaching their students virtually until Oct. 19, when in-person learning could begin depending on the status of the pandemic. Parents will be able to opt their children out of face-t0-face instruction if they don't deem it safe.
  • San Francisco schools did not specify if or when they will move to in-person instruction, but the district is working to provide laptops for students who need it.

Go deeper: The nationwide K-12 tipping point

Go deeper

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.

Updated Oct 22, 2020 - World

France becomes 2nd Western European country to top 1M coronavirus cases

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Seine Saint Denis prefecture headquarters in Paris, on Tuesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows

The big picture: France had reported 1,000,369 cases and 34,075 deaths from the coronavirus by Thursday morning, per JHU. French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and imposed a curfew on virus hot spots earlier this month. Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European nation to top 1 million cases.