U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday that the world faces a “generational catastrophe” because of school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic and said that getting students safely back to the classroom must be “a top priority.” Guterres said that as of mid-July schools were closed in some 160 countries, affecting more than 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children have missed out on pre-school.
This came on top of more than 250 million children already being out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries leaving with basic skills, he said in a video statement. The U.N. recommendations for getting global education back on track come as U.S. President Donald Trump pushes for schools to reopen in the face of opposition from some teachers and parents while COVID-19 is surging in many parts of the country.
The coronavirus, which first appeared in China late last year, has infected 4.6 million people in the United States and killed more than 155,000 Americans since February, according to a Reuters tally. Deaths rose by over 25,000 in July and cases doubled in 19 states during the month. Globally the coronavirus has infected at least 18.1 million people and there have been more than 689,000 known deaths worldwide, according to the Reuters tally.