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Andrew Burstein logs onto his eighth-grade class in Delray Beach, Fla. Photo: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

An estimated 62% of American schoolkids are starting the year virtually, with many of the rest facing the same fate should caseloads rise in their areas. Only 19% have in-person school every day, with another 18% in hybrid formats, according to a Burbio tracker.

The state of play, via the AP: Three of Texas’ largest school districts were hit with technical problems on the first day of classes, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. North Carolina’s platform crashed on the first day of classes last month, and Seattle’s system crashed last week.

The big picture: These problems are particularly acute for parents of young kids.

  • Alessandra Martinez's 7-year-old has struggled with logins, passwords and connection problems, she told AP.
  • He had a meltdown when he was moved to a smaller breakout group but didn’t see the teacher and didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing.
  • “At their age, everything is amplified, and it feels like a big deal,” Martinez said.

The bottom line: Educators and parents alike are doing their best, and hopefully some of these issues can be fixed or minimized.

  • But as with just about every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic, its pain will be felt most by those with the fewest resources.

Go deeper: The COVID-19 learning cliff

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated."
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated — Annual vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate — Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance — Arizona governor sues Biden administration over funds tied to mandates.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Emails show former Trump health appointee advocated herd immunity strategy

HHS Secretary Alex Azar with President Trump at the White House on Nov. 20. Photo: Mangel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

A former senior Health and Human Services adviser advocated this summer to let young and middle-aged Americans become infected with COVID-19 in order to develop "herd immunity," according to emails released Wednesday by the House committee overseeing the federal government's coronavirus response.

Why it matters: Without a vaccine, achieving herd immunity — in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — would result in widespread fatalities and likely overwhelm health systems.

Dec 17, 2020 - Health

Biden set to take coronavirus vaccine in public next week

President-elect Biden during a Dec. 11 event in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Biden plans to take the COVID-19 vaccine in public and he could receive a dose as early as next week, his transition team confirmed to Axios Wednesday.

Details: "I don't want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, Wednesday. "When I do it, I'll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done."