Things That Matter

It’s Back To School Season In Mexico And Kids Are Being Asked To Turn On The TV

Thanks to the Coronavirus, many families morning routines are totally out of whack. And that’s becoming ever more apparent as back to school season ramps up and parents are having to play teacher and principal and counselor while also maintaining their work/home lives.

Mexico – which among the many countries that have cancelled in-person learning for this school year – is betting on TV and radio to deliver an education to all students. However, the burden is already being felt by parents who are turning to neighbors and abuelos for help.

Mexico has said no to in-person learning thanks to the Coronavirus but they’re trying to come up with solutions.

Mexico’s government has decided against in-person classes this year, deeming the Coronavirus too big a threat. Therefore, the country’s 30 million students will all be forced to learn remotely, usually from their own homes with family helping out as impromptu instructors.

Officials say the Coronavirus – which has killed more than 60,000 Mexicans amid the nearly 600,000 confirmed cases – is far too dangerous to allow kids back into the classroom.

One student told CNN that “It’s good we’re still having class. But I’m sad because I was going to start high school and meet new people.”

At home learning is tough even in well-developed countries. But in places like Mexico, where only 56% of households have Internet access and many students live in rural, poorly equipped Indigenous villages, it’s a monumental task. So if the law requires all Mexican kids to be offered a public education, the government has decided the best way to do that is over the airwaves, with 93% of households having a television.

In the meantime, the burden on parents, already high during any normal school year, will dramatically increase this year. If kids are going to make progress, parents in the home will be the primary driving force.

Teachers are becoming part-time actors as the government enlists there help to educate the country’s 30 million students.

Credit: Marcos Ugarte / Getty Images

Many of the country’s teachers have been called upon to join the growing ranks of online teachers. In TV studios across Mexico City, teachers are being dressed and having makeup put on for their on-camera closeups.

For many, it’s a big change. Teachers often develop close relationships with their students – they’re used to setting up their classrooms, hugging kids on their first day of school, and knowing about their interests, passions, and areas that need more focus.

Inside a brightly lit studio at Mexico City TV station Channel 11 last week, fifth grade teacher Omar Morales squinted as a young man with bright purple hair applied makeup to his face. Omar Morales told CNN, that “It’s challenging. It’s no longer 40 kids in a class where I know their names, passions, their favorite games. Here, I’m locked in a set, but I know there’s millions of kids out there who still need that knowledge.”

Morales is part of an ambitious government plan to record a comprehensive set of lessons for all grade levels pre-K through high school and then broadcast them on TV. It has worked out agreements with different TV channels to broadcast that content, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with different grade levels at different hours.

The curriculum the government is sharing over the airwaves is meant to mirror that taught in public schools had they not been forced to close thanks to the pandemic. Music class and physical secrecies is also included in the televised offering, with gold-medal-winning diver Rommel Pacheco encouraging children to stretch.

The government has turned to TV and radio to help make sure the education gap doesn’t grow wider amid the pandemic.

Mexico already suffered from an extreme education gap – meaning that rich kids often received a far better education than poor kids, who were also often from rural or Indigenous communities. This was a major problem long before the pandemic.

For example, relatively wealthy Mexico City saw a 92% secondary, or high-school level, education enrollment rate as of 2019. In the much poorer state of Chiapas, that rate stood at only 59%.

But experts fear that the pandemic could greatly exacerbate the issue – and many acknowledge that TV and radio can’t solve underlying inequalities in the education system. You don’t need to be an education expert to conclude that wealthier students with internet access and the ability to interact with a teacher, even remotely, might fare better than those who get their classes the same way they watch cartoons.

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Starting today, everyone 16 and older can get in line for the Coronavirus vaccine. This is a huge milestone that has been months in the making after a very ambitious plan by the Biden administration.

But with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still on pause, many have been wondering what the vaccine program will look like – especially since nearly everyone is now eligible to receive a shot in the arm.

As of Monday, anyone 16 and over is technically eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, every state in the U.S. expanded its vaccine eligibility to include all adults over the age of 16, meeting President Biden’s deadline which he established two weeks ago.

The country is now administering 3.2 million doses a day on average, and half of all adults have now received at least one dose. Additionally, 84.3 million people have now been fully vaccinated against the disease. These are truly encouraging figures in the fight against the pandemic but a lot of uncertainty remains.

Ok but can I get a shot?

Technically, yes, anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the vaccine but your access to it really varies from state to state.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., were the last to open up eligibility on Monday, after other states expanded access to the general public over the past month.

If the country’s present vaccination rate continues, 70% of the total U.S. population could be vaccinated by June 17 and 90% by July 25, the New York Times has projected. That timeline will likely depend on what happens with Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, however, as distribution is now paused following reports of blood clots, despite being statistically extremely rare.

So, what’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On Sunday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that he believed the pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will likely be lifted on Friday. During interviews on talk shows, Fauci stated that he expected federal health officials to decide on the vaccine’s future by the end of the week and that he did not anticipate the vaccine being permanently banned.

One alternative to banning is to limit who is able to receive the one dose shot, perhaps limiting it to males over the age of 50. This is how Europe adjusted its strategy following similar blood clotting issues with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which was created using similar methods.

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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