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Mexico City metro collapse, students punished with virtual classes and Rome’s Colosseum makeover: Tuesday top stories

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Today we are looking at a controversial new form of school discipline in the pandemic, a tragic train overpass collapse in Mexico City and a new way of experiencing Rome’s ancient Colosseum.

Here’s what we’re watching this Tuesday morning.

‘A total nightmare’: Schools condemn kids to virtual classes under guise of Covid safety protocols

The school Raynardo Antonio Ocasio, 6, attends in New York sent him to online classes last fall after deeming his classroom behavior unsafe during a pandemic.NBC News; Family Handout

Raynardo Antonio Ocasio, a 6-year-old kindergartener, has been banned from his classroom since September.

After attending in-person classes for four weeks last fall at the Zeta Charter School, across the street from his apartment in northern Manhattan, Raynardo was banished to the school’s virtual classes for failing to wear a mask and follow other Covid-19 safety rules.

The school said pushing Raynardo out was necessary to keep teachers and students safe at a scary moment in the pandemic.

More than seven months later, Raynardo is still attending classes virtually, missing out on developing social skills and struggling to learn, his mother Mayra Irizarry said.

More than that, education advocates say that removing students from in-person classes because of their behavior may violate those students’ rights, especially if they have disabilities.

“This is the new face of denial of access to public education,” said Lorraine Wright, a civil rights and educational justice advocate in Virginia. “It’s just a new way to send kids to an alternative setting. Now it’s just easier and covered under the guise of Covid protection.”

Tuesday’s top stories

Luis Cortes / Reuters

At least 23 dead after metro overpass collapses in Mexico City

A metro train overpass collapsed onto a road in Mexico City on Monday night, killing at least 23 people including children, authorities said. Dozens more were taken to hospitals, some with serious injuries, the city’s mayor said. By Phil Helsel, Michelle Acevedo and Yuliya Talmazan | Read more

Five charged after almost 100 people found in Houston home in alleged smuggling operation

Houston police were investigating a report of a possible kidnapping on Friday when they found 97 people, none of whom have authorization to be in the U.S., inside the two-story home, officials said. By Phil Helsel | Read more

In Israel, first came the tragedy, then a search for who to blame.

Days after a deadly stampede resulted in the deaths of 45 people at a religious festival in northern Israel, many are now asking who is at fault. Some, including activists from inside the community, are calling for the ultra-Orthodox to look at their own role. By Rachel Elbaum | Read more

OPINION: How white rural Covid rejectors could prevent American herd immunity

Two physicians who practice in Florida and Michigan write about watching the national race to vaccinate their fellow Americans with both optimism and alarm. By Dr. Rob Davidson and Dr. Bernard Ashby | Read more

Top general drops opposition to change in military sex assault policy

In a potentially significant shift in the debate over combating sexual assault in the military, Gen. Mark Milley said he is dropping his opposition to a proposal to take decisions on sexual assault prosecution out of the hands of commanders. By The Associated Press | Read more

BETTER: Could you spend 1,000 hours outside this year? Here’s how to take the challenge

Could you spend three to four hours outside each day? Mom Ginny Yurich saw the benefits of more free play outside was for her kids: “They’re happier, they’re sleeping better, they’re not getting sick … We’re all thriving.” Now she’s encouraging other families to give it a try. By Gabrielle Frank | Read more

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Also in the news …


Experts recommend the best sales to shop this month, from Mother’s Day to Memorial Day and across retailers like Amazon, Kohl’s, Nordstrom and more.

One fun thing

What would Rome’s ancient Colosseum, packed with up to 50,000 people, look like from a gladiator’s point of view?

You may soon find out.

Italy’s Culture Ministry announced a plan to furnish the 2,000-year-old building with a new retractable floor to allow visitors to “see the majesty of the Colosseum” from its center.

Watch a video about the high-tech project here.

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