School districts across the nation are returning to remote learning due to staffing shortages and a surge of COVID as cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has doubled in just 24 hours ahead of the holiday break, according to reports.
On Friday, Prince George’s County in Maryland became the first major school district to announce that all students will make the move to remote learning.
Students in the district will begin online learning Monday, just four days before winter break begins.
The remote learning will continue for two weeks when classes resume on January 3, the county’s public school website states.
‘Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community,’ Monica Goldson, the CEO of the county’s public schools, said in a letter to the community.
Districts nationwide look to take students out of the classroom and back to remote learning again due to the Omicron variant. Pictured: A stock image of students in class
Pictured: A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a student during a ‘Vax To School’ campaign event at a high school in Staten Island in August
‘The increased positivity rates have significantly challenged the ability to do so, causing anxiety among many school communities and disruption to the school day.’
And in New York City, the Department of Education has already closed 859 classrooms citywide, four times the number one month ago, according to the department’s website.
Another 2,500 classes were partially closed as of Friday while newly reported COVID-19 infections spiked across the city.
According to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the city averaged 2,899 confirmed cases each day over the past week, an increase from a daily average of around 1,800 cases over the last 28 days.
US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, pictured, visits the COVID-19 student vaccine clinic at Prince George’s County Public Schools in November
Pictured: number of US infections per day in November and December
The US passed 800,000 deaths from the virus this week, with nearly 51 million US cases overall
Meanwhile, in Upstate New York, health officials announced that the Oswego City School District would be transitioning from in-class to remote learning from Friday, December 17 to December 23 due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, Oswego.com reported.
Since last Saturday alone, there have been 60 cases in the district, causing staffing shortages.
On Monday, the South Nodaway School Board in Missouri voted to cancel the remainder of the fall semester and resume classes on January 3, following the winter break, over similar staffing shortages caused by the spike in cases.
In St. Louis, the St. Roch Catholic School revealed it would also be transitioning to virtual classes this week, with students set to return after the winter vacation because too many teachers and students are currently out sick, according to St. Louis Today.
Pictured: where Omicron COVID variant is spreading in the US as of December 18, 6 pm
The Board of Education for the South Nodaway School District, pictured, voted to cancel the rest of the Fall semester and pick back up after the winter break on January 3
Public schools in New Orleans mandated vaccinations for students ages five and up this week, which will go into effect on February 1.
The requirement will make the city the first in the US to require a COVID-19 vaccine for school children that young.
The in-class closures come as the Biden administration looks to impose a new strategy using increased Covid testing to keep children in classrooms, which Biden announced on Friday.
School-aged children have been particularly vulnerable, as only 18 percent of kids five to 11 have at least one shot, with 61 percent of those 12 to 17, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported.
The US passed 800,000 deaths from the virus this week.