September 8, 2021: Biden, Texas governor, Mexico earthquake, U.S. $3.5 trillion bill, Mask Mandates
1. President Joe Biden toured sites of deadly floods in the Northeast and said Hurricane Ida demonstrated the ravages of climate change as he pressed for investments to boost infrastructure and fight global warming.
2. Governor Greg Abbott made Texas the latest U.S. state to impose Republican-backed voting restrictions, signing a law that was swiftly challenged in court and criticized by President Joe Biden as part of an “all-out assault” on American democracy.
3. A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Mexico near the beach resort of Acapulco, killing at least one man and damaging buildings, authorities said.
4. A U.S. House of Representatives committee this week will attempt to advance sweeping legislation to expand healthcare benefits for the elderly and other social services as part of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion domestic investment plan.
5. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten crouched to sit at a first-graders’ table in a Florida school, chatting with masked 6-year-olds about books and their former kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Smith.
A year into the coronavirus pandemic, many schools are only partially open for fear they could fuel the spread of the virus. Experts explain what the actual risks are for spreading Covid-19 in schools and how proper controls can change that equation. Illustration: Preston Jessee for The Wall Street Journal
At the start of the pandemic, there were fears that schools could become hotspots for infections. We discuss the evidence suggesting that this is unlikely to be the case, and the rates of infection in children of different ages.
NPR Up First reports: President Trump travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin to meet with law enforcement as protesters continue to call for police reform. Also, New York City schools were set to open next week, but one of the largest teachers unions in the country is considering a strike. And, India is pushing forward with reopening it’s economy despite record-breaking cases, quickly becoming the global epicenter of the pandemic.
Some of the country’s largest school districts have already made the decision to go online-only for this coming school year. Many are talking about hybrid models that combine distance and in-person learning, but whether they’re online or in the classroom, teachers will bear the brunt of making their classes work.
Plus, why Joe Biden’s campaign is dreading foreign policy.
Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks about what can be learned from schools around the world that have reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, few systematic studies have been done, but observations of outbreaks in schools in places such as France or Israel do offer a few lessons for countries looking to send children back to school soon.
The United Kingdom and Germany have started studies of how the virus spreads in children and at school, but results are months away. In the meantime, Gretchen’s reporting suggests small class sizes, masks, and social distancing among adults at schools are particularly important measures.
Also this week, Sarah talks with Kiristie Thompson, a Ph.D. student in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, about increasing the efficiency of petroleum processing. If all—or even some—petroleum processing goes heat free, it would mean big energy savings. Around the world, about 1% of all energy use goes to heating up petroleum in order to get useful things such as gas for cars or polymers for plastics. These days, this separation is done through distillation, heating, and separating by boiling point. Kirstie describes a heat-free way of getting this separation—by using a special membrane instead. Read a related Insight.