Omicron Shakes Return to Schools and Workplaces in the United States | WGN 720 radio

Some school systems in the United States extended their vacation on Monday or returned to online education due to the explosion in COVID-19 cases, while others continued with in-person classes amid a apparently growing sense that Americans will have to learn to co-exist with the virus.

Caught between calls from teachers fearing the infection and parents wanting their kids to be in class, school districts in cities like Milwaukee, New York, Detroit and beyond found themselves in a difficult position early in the decade. second half of the school year due to the super-contagious omicron variant.

New York City, home to the nation’s largest public school system, has reopened classrooms to around 1 million students with a supply of take-out COVID-19 test kits and plans to double the number of tests random activities carried out in schools.

“We are going to be safe and we will be open to educating our children,” newly sworn in mayor Eric Adams said on MSNBC.

New Yorker Trisha White said she believes the risk is the same for her 9-year-old in and out of school and that being with classmates is much better for him than distance learning.

“He could catch the virus outside of school,” she said, dropping the boy off. “So what can you do? You know, I wouldn’t blame the school system. They’re doing their best.

While the teachers’ union had asked the mayor to postpone the in-person learning by a week, city officials have long said requirements for masks, testing and other safety measures mean that children are safe at school. The city also has a vaccination mandate for employees.

New cases of COVID-19 in the city have fallen from a daily average of around 17,000 the week before the holidays to nearly 37,000 last week.

New cases of COVID-19 in the United States have tripled in the past two weeks to more than 400,000 a day, the highest level on record, as many Americans rush to get tested. The outbreak is placing a heavy burden on vital sectors of the economy, including hospitals and the airline industry, which are seeing large numbers of employees infected.

Public health experts have said eradicating the virus is unlikely and the world will instead have to find a way to keep COVID-19 at an acceptable level, in much the same way it does. with the flu.

Policy makers and health authorities have been aware of the negative consequences for the economy and the education system.

Last week, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended isolation period for COVID-19 from 10 days to five, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “We want to make sure that there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to operate society while following science.

In another development on Monday that could impact schools’ ability to stay open, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer recalls for children as young as 12. Recalls are already recommended for all ages 16 and over.

Elsewhere in the country, Syracuse, New York, canceled school on Monday due to growing infections and a lack of substitute teachers to cover absences.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee school system, which has 75,000 students, reverted to virtual instruction on Tuesday due to increased cases among staff members. The district announced plans to resume in-person classes on January 10.

The District of Madison, Wisconsin, also announced a switch to virtual learning, starting Thursday.

Detroit School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told parents there would be no in-person or online learning until Wednesday due to a high rate of infection among employees who could lead to a widespread spread of COVID-19 and “an excessive staff shortage”.

The District of Peoria, Ill., Has extended winter vacations by one week.

Schools in Davenport, Iowa, surprised parents early Monday by announcing the cancellation of all classes for the day due to a shortage of school bus drivers blamed at least in part on COVID-19.

Educators in Minnesota braced for a peak in coronavirus cases as classrooms reopened as scheduled.

“What I’ve heard from the superintendents is that they’re nervous about omicron,” said Bob Indihar, executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association. “It looks like this is the new normal that changes will happen and that quarantines and exits of people are now just part of the process. Districts are sort of taking it in stride. “

The president of the National Parents Union, a network of parenting organizations, called the sudden return to e-learning an “abomination.”

“Once again, parents are scrambling at the last minute and, even worse, far too many children are deprived of a learning experience in person, which is essential for their academic and socio-emotional development,” Keri Rodrigues said in a statement. .

Many companies have also suspended or postponed their return to work plans due to the hike. Thousands of airline flights have been canceled in recent days in a mess attributed in part to staff shortages.

Dawn Crawley, CEO of House Cleaning Heroes, a cleaning service based in Herndon, Va., Said she had to cancel four of 20 cleaning jobs for Tuesday because four employees are sick – three with COVID-19.

“The fear is that it will cross the team” as well as the customers, she said.


Peltz reported from New York. Ehlke reported from Milwaukee. Tang reported from San Jose, Calif. Associated Press editors Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; Anne D’Innocenzio in New York; Michael Hill in Albany, New York, Rick Callahan in Indianapolis; and Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.

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