Jul 13, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 500 words, a 2-minute read.

⚡️Situational awareness: NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in quarantine. "Please take this virus seriously," he tweeted. "Mask up!"

1 big thing: The nationwide K-12 tipping point

Santa Monica yesterday. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The doors of public schools are swiftly slamming shut for many Americans ahead of this next school year.

  • Los Angeles and San Diego are starting out online-only this fall, forcing 825,000 students to learn with a laptop.
  • California is also re-entering lockdown: Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and other family entertainment to stop serving customers indoors, and he ordered bars to close in their entirety.

Why it matters: This could start a domino effect among officials who haven't made a final decision, especially with the coronavirus surging across much of the U.S.

  • It also sets up a conflict with the Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who are pushing schools to have students in classrooms.

The big picture: Los Angeles is the first big district to make this move, with plenty more at a crucial point in the decision-making process.

  1. New York City will be allowed to open schools if positive test rates remain below 5%.
  2. Chicago let high school athletes return to practice last week, but hasn't decided whether to have classes in person.
  3. Miami-Dade is asking parents to vote on their preference of online, hybrid or in-person, but this only applies if the state goes to the next phase of re-opening.
  4. Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools released its draft plan this weekend to start September with online-only classes. In-person classes would then be phased in, and blocked off by different periods and grades, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.
  5. Las Vegas will have a hybrid system with the potential for alterations.
  6. Atlanta's school board is voting today on whether to start the first nine weeks online.

Between the lines: Teachers unions are flexing some muscle here, the LA Times notes.

  • Los Angeles teachers union leadership pushed for online-only, and "83% of teachers agreed in a one-day snap poll."

By the numbers: Cost will be a big factor in these decisions.

  • San Diego faced a $90 million price tag to add the necessary support staff and disinfecting procedures to keep schools open. (N.Y. Times)
  • The bill could average out to nearly $1.8 million per school district, the School Superintendents Association estimates. (ABC News)

The bottom line: American schools are profoundly unequal, and a child's ZIP code determines a large part of their destiny.

  • Now one of the few equalizing elements — kids learning in the same physical classrooms as their peers — is out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

Go deeper: Teachers’ union president on reopening schools (podcast)

2. Pic du jour
Photo: Damir Sagolj/Getty Images

Bosnian Muslim women pray as relatives of victims of the Srebrenica genocide visit sites of the 1995 mass execution.

  • More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after the Bosnian Serb Army attacked a designated UN safe area in July 1995.
3. Catch up quick
  1. The World Health Organization's director-general warned that "there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," but that there is a "roadmap" for struggling countries to get the virus under control. Go deeper.
  2. Hong Kong Disneyland will close again after reopening last month from a coronavirus-driven shutdown that began in January. Go deeper.
  3. The U.S. announced it rejects most of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. Go deeper.
  4. Two federal judges have blocked restrictive abortion laws from moving forward in Georgia and Tennessee. Go deeper.
4. 1 helpful thing
Cover: Columbia Records via AP

The Chicks, fresh off a name change, are releasing “Gaslighter” on Friday, the AP notes.

  • The album — their first in 14 years — was produced by hitmaker Jack Antonoff, who has helped Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, Sara Bareilles and Lorde craft music.
Mike Allen