Can schools manage Omicron? - The New York Times

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This is the Education Briefing, a weekly update on the most important education news in the United States. Sign up here to receive this newsletter in your inbox.

This is our last education newsletter for 2021 – and it is sobering to have to end the year with a look at another wave of Covid and the mental health toll of our students.

Many school districts and many parents say they don’t want classrooms to close again. Several large school systems have stated that they would not move district-wide to distance learning, or would only do so if required to do so by public health officials.

But the impending Omicron wave could jeopardize the shaky infrastructure that has kept schools running this year. Some classrooms are closing temporarily as more people test positive or go into quarantine.

“I wasn’t even slightly surprised – I fully expected it,” said Olivia Strong, a relative from Manhattan. Her son’s eighth grade cohort is switching to distance learning due to multiple cases of the virus in his classroom.

Things have gone relatively well for schools this year, despite targeted classroom closures to contain the spread of the virus. Outbreaks in schools have been limited throughout the pandemic and children are being immunized. (Crucially, as my colleague David Leonhardt noted repeatedly in The Morning newsletter, childhood Covid is almost always benign.)

In the 13,000 districts and 98,000 public schools nationwide this week, there are around 600 closed schools or districts, according to Burbio data, a company that monitored the operation of schools during the pandemic. There are fewer closures now than in November.

Corn the Omicron variant seems contagious enough to upset the precarious balance that has kept schools open. Many are in desperate need of substitute teachers and bus drivers, and can hardly afford an epidemic that would send many staff home.

The CDC encouraged schools to use a “test to stay“, in which people who test negative after exposure can stay in classrooms, reducing quarantines and closures.

But there are still not enough rapid tests to quickly screen entire classes or schools. And many parents have not given their consent to have their children tested for the virus at school.

“If there is a positive case in a class, everyone should just get tested,” said Erik Berg, vice president of the Boston Teachers Union. “If our universities and colleges can test everyone on campus twice a week, that says a lot about the commitment to K-12 education that we can’t even test people we know to be in the same. piece with a positive case for six or seven. hours. “

Being a student during the pandemic was not easy. Here is an overview of the challenges our children faced.


Although almost all schools opened last fall, teachers have had to deal with some of the legacy of long-term distance education.

Some children were melt at school. Moms had a hard time, too much. This fall, the number of children under 13 in crisis was increasing.

During the summer camp directors bore the brunt of the children’s anxieties. And in schools, nurses are often on the front lines of the mental health crisis, and they are often overwhelmed by the need.

Let us not forget that an impressive number of children – at least 120,000, according to a recent study – have lost a parent or caregiver due to Covid-19.


The surgeon general warned this month that young people are facing “devastating effects on mental health because of the challenges experienced by their generation, including the coronavirus pandemic.

Distance learning during the last school year has played a role. Few have had more trouble than children from immigrant households who rarely speak English at home. Color families – who have disproportionately borne the impact of the pandemic and the shortcomings of distance learning – are often the most in difficulty.

“In the more than two decades that I have spent as a psychologist working with adolescents, I have never seen adolescents so exhausted at the end of a school year as they are now.” Lisa Damour wrote in The Times this spring.

A survey this summer found that 72 percent of 13-19 year olds had mental health issues. Eating disorders have exploded, too much. In a recent poll, about half of middle and high school students in Los Angeles said they were worried about their own sanity and that of their families and friends.

Genesis Duran is one of the millions of high school students whose world has been rocked by the pandemic. She lives in New York City, where she had to help her sister learn from a distance while taking care of her own classes.

My colleague Susan Dominus also looked in a class in Columbia, Mo., where the students and their teacher went through a difficult year, stuck in front of their screens.

And The Times audio team traveled to Odessa, TX, where a high school … and his fanfare – fight to keep students in school, healthy and learning.


This semester, students are back on campus. With the vaccines, life started to feel a bit more normal, at least for some students.

But as the Omicron variant spreads, universities fear a worsening mental health crisis. Many students are isolated and depressed, and in a few institutions there has been a disturbing wave of suicides.

As cases increase, a big question is what campus life will be like in January. Will the courses be remote? Will the students be able to come together? Will there even be campus life?

During distance education last year, some students have found that in the midst of the losses there are gains, in their unwanted suspension from campus life.

The bright spots of a difficult year

More schools are planning to use coronavirus relief money to strengthen mental health resources. And a lot of schools have allowed mental health days after teens pushed for them. here is tips to make yours worth it.

“My soccer-obsessed 13-year-old son asked to skip school for a mental health day,” wrote Holly Roberson, a parent from Berkeley, Calif. “He spent the day in bed, sipping hot chocolate and working on a script for a musical. He said it was the happiest day of his life.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Can schools manage Omicron? - The New York Times
Can schools manage Omicron? - The New York Times
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