Omicron ends the US's return to schools and workplaces

Some schools in the U.S. have extended their holiday breaks Monday, or switched back online to instruction due to the explosion of COVID-19 cases. Others continue with in-person classes amid an apparent growing awareness that Americans will need to learn how to live with the virus.

Omicron ends the US's return to schools and workplaces

School districts across the country, including those in New York, Chicago, Chicago, Detroit, and elsewhere, were caught between parents wanting their children to attend school and teachers who are worried about infection.

New York City, the home of the largest school system in the country, has reopened its classrooms to approximately 1 million students. They have a stockpile COVID-19 test kits for take-home and plan to double the number random tests that are conducted in schools.

Eric Adams, newly elected Mayor, stated that "We will keep our schools open" and "ensure that our children live in a safe environment."

Trisha White, a New Yorker, stated that her son is at risk regardless of whether he is in school or not. She feels that it is better to be with his classmates than remote learning.

She said, "He could get it outside of school," as she dropped off the boy. What can you do? "So what can you do? They are trying their best."

Although the teachers union asked for the mayor to delay in-person learning by a week, officials from the city have always maintained that testing, masks, and other safety measures ensure that children are safe at school. Employees are also required to be vaccinated by the city.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the city jumped from an average daily of 17,000 the week before the holidays, to almost 37,000 the week after.

In the United States, COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 400,000 per day in the past week. This is despite many Americans being eager to be tested.

Employers large and small are being hit hard by high rates of infection and the resulting shortages in workers. In recent days, thousands of flights on airlines were cancelled and many businesses abandoned plans for return-to-work.

New Orleans' weekend garbage collection was delayed and several Colorado counties had their jury trials suspended. A number of libraries in New York on Long Island and at a New Hampshire ski resort had to be closed. Atlanta restaurant owner spent $700 on rapid testing kits. He then used the parking lot to test workers to ensure he had enough people to staff his recent dinner shift.

Dawn Crawley, the CEO of House Cleaning Heroes, a Herndon-based cleaning service, stated that she had to cancel four out of twenty cleaning jobs Tuesday due to illness of four employees -- three of whom were COVID-19.

She said, "The fear is that it will run through our team" and customers alike.

The economic and educational costs have been a concern for policymakers and health officials.

Experts in public health have stated that it is impossible to eradicate the virus and that the world must instead find a way for COVID-19 to be kept at an acceptable level. This is similar to how the flu works.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the COVID-19 isolation time from 10 to 5 days, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of CDC, stated last week: "We want a mechanism that allows us to safely continue society functioning while following science."

Another important development Monday could impact the ability of schools remain open. The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer booster shots for children under 12. Everyone 16 years and older is advised to take booster shots.

Los Angeles Unified Schools District announced Monday that schools would reopen on Jan. 11, due to the rise in omicrons. To be allowed to enter the school, students from 600,000 and 73,000 employees must have a negative COVID-19 result. There will be a testing location and take-home kits.

Syracuse, New York, cancelled school Monday due to an increase in infections and a shortage of substitute teachers.

Due to rising staff cases, the Wisconsin 75,000-student Milwaukee School System is returning to virtual instruction Tuesday. According to the district, it plans to resume in-person classes Jan.

The Madison, Wisconsin district announced that it will shift to virtual learning starting Thursday.

Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Detroit Schools, told parents that there would be no in-person learning or online learning Wednesday due to a high rate for infection among employees. This could cause extensive spread of COVID-19 as well as "excessive staff shortfalls."

The Chicago school system's roughly 350,000 students returned to school, but a dispute over safety measures between the district leaders and the teachers union could cause disruptions in classes later this week. The union indicated that it could vote Tuesday in favor of remote teaching in the third-largest county in the country.

District Peoria, Illinois extended winter break for one week

Parents were shocked Monday morning when Davenport schools announced that all classes would be cancelled due to a shortage in bus drivers. This was at least partially blamed on COVID-19.

Minnesota's teachers were prepared for an increase in cases after classrooms reopened as planned.

Bob Indihar, executive director at the Minnesota Rural Education Association, stated that superintendents are concerned about omicron. "It seems that this is the new normal. Changes are inevitable and quarantines and people being absent are part of the process. Districts seem to be taking it all in stride."

The President of the National Parents Union, an organization of parent organizations, called the abrupt switch to virtual learning "an abhorrent."

Keri Rodrigues stated in a statement that "once again, parents are left scrambling last minute, and far too many kids are being deprived an in-person learning experience which is crucial for their academic, social-emotional, and developmental development,"

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