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Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

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

Driving the news: 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.
  7. In Seattle, students are "likely to go to school in person only once or twice a week" in the plan under consideration as of July 8, per the N.Y. Times.

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)

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2020 - Health

California issues more rigid COVID-19 guidelines for theme park re-openings

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California health officials on Tuesday told theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood that they can reopen once daily coronavirus cases in their respective counties drop below one per 100,000 people.

Why it matters: Disney and Universal, both of which hoped to reopen when their counties reached "moderate" spread, have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Deadline reported that Universal Studios Hollywood laid off over 2,200 employees since July and Disney laid off 28,000 employees in September.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 21, 2020 - Health

Studies show drop in COVID death rate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's been a sharp drop in mortality rates among hospitalized coronavirus patients, including older patients and those with pre-existing health conditions, per two new peer-reviewed studies.

By the numbers: One study that looked at a single health system found that hospitalized patients had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic, but now have only a 7.6% chance, NPR reports.

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