Virus Outbreak Schools

Teachers from the Earth School speak out on issues related to lack of Coronavirus testing outside P.S. 64 in New York. In the nation’s largest school system, New York City, two million at-home test kits provided by the state will be used to increase testing following the break, the mayor announced this week.

Mask requirements are returning in some school districts that had dropped them. Some are planning to vastly ramp up virus testing among students and staff. And a small number of school systems are switching to remote learning — for just a short while, educators hope.

With coronavirus infections soaring, the return from schools’ winter break will be different than planned for some as administrators again tweak protocols and make real-time adjustments in response to the shifting pandemic. All are signaling a need to stay flexible.

“Change has been the only constant in this fight,” Newark Schools Superintendent Roger León wrote in a notice to parents before break. He announced Thursday that students will learn remotely for at least the first two weeks of the new year. The virus, León said, continues “to be a brutal, relentless and ruthless virus that rears its ugly head at inopportune times.”

Long after the widespread closures in the pandemic’s early days, school and elected leaders say they are using the lessons and tools of the past two years to try to navigate the latest surge without long-term shutdowns, which had woeful effects on learning and students’ well-being.

Still, pressure from parents and teachers unions has added to the urgency surrounding safety measures as the omicron-fueled surge sends up caseloads and puts children in the hospital in close to record numbers.

“They say kids do well (if infected), but who’s to say my kid is not going to be that one,” said Rebecca Caldwell, who is considering petitioning her Charleston, Illinois, district for a remote option that would let her keep her four sons, ages 17, 10, 7 and five, home through the winter.

The first half of the school year brought Caldwell’s family three scares from exposures. One, from a family member, kept the whole family in quarantine for 10 days. Her 17-year-old and 10-year-old saw classmates infected, and each underwent a nerve-wracking series of COVID-19 tests as part of a more recent “test-to-stay” policy.

“It’s really scary because you worry about the domino effect, too,” said Caldwell, whose own health issues led her to leave her restaurant job more than a year ago to lessen her risk.

In the nation’s largest school system, New York City, two million at-home test kits provided by the state will be used to increase testing following the break, officials announced this week. Students whose classmates test positive can keep coming to school as long as their at-home tests are negative and they don’t have symptoms.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York City educators, questioned whether the new testing initiatives will be available in every school by the time schools reopen, today.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

Teachers (aka Parasites) looking for any reason to avoid earning their paycheck like others do...They want free money. Do you want "Parasites", and "Huge Cowards" teaching your children...? You will be better off Homeschooling your child, or enrolling them in a private school....unless you enjoy watching your child fail.

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