“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever,” the U.N. chief said.
One billion students were left without classrooms when schools were closed in 160 countries across the globe and 40 million children “missed out on education in their critical pre-school year,” he said.
“Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,” Gutteres said. “Getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority.”
The pandemic has killed nearly 700,000 people across the globe.
In the U.S., the question of how and when schools should reopen has pitted politicians versus parents versus teachers while President Donald Trump has pushed for a rapid reopening of schools even as the grim arithmetic scoffs at his prediction that the pandemic would “just disappear.”
Trump on Tuesday suggested Democrats want to keep the economy hobbled and schools closed for political rather than safety reasons.
“Frankly, they want to keep it closed, I think, as long as possible,” he told Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network. “Maybe for some good reasons but maybe also for political reasons. But we want it opened. We want the schools open, Lou. You know, young people have better immune systems than we do, Lou.”
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