Omicron Variant plus soaring Corona Virus rates are handicapping a vast majority of systems across the county as students return to back-to-in-person learning after a Winter break this week. These are creating staff shortages, labor disputes plus testing snafus. Plus low attendance and inclement weather.
Omicron Variant and the Escalating increase of COVID-9 Infections is Wrecking Havoc
Also, the biggest news this week in the K-12 education area has been the stalemate between the union leaders and city officials in Chicago that is over how to safely keep schools open. On Wednesday, classes were canceled in the nation’s third-largest school district. This is after 73% of the Chicago Teachers Union’s 25,000 members went to vote. The issue was returning to remote learning that was due to the quick increase in COVID-19 infections. There was a testing complication that left school leaders that were unsure of the positivity rates among students and staff.
Biggest Challenges Around the Surge
There is no reason to return the whole district to virtual learning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. They could use vaccination rates that are surgical. Also, there are schools that are facing the biggest challenges with the Omicron surge. Then she also rejected the union’s demands that all students and staff be tested.
“Moreover, let’s be clear here regarding Chicago schools. Because no one wants schools closed,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said Wednesday morning following the union’s vote to work remotely. “The educators do want to be in the classroom with students. That is where they learn best. Although, we do that through working together to roll out testing, masking, and vaccination. In fact, many major districts have done it.”
The union represents more than 1.7 million educators, Weingarten said. They do include those in most large city school districts. It has been pressing schools to stay open for in-person learning and plus sounding the alarm on the academic, social, and emotional losses. They were incurred when schools operated virtually. The significant setbacks do disproportionately impact students of color, students from low-income families, and those with disabilities.