The Omicron surge threatens to upend any sense of peace in the nation’s education system.
After a holiday break that saw Covid-19 cases spike unrelentingly, a small but growing list of districts — including Newark, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Cleveland — moved temporarily to remote learning for more than 450,000 children.
Districtwide closures, even those that last for a week or two, are a step backward after months in which classrooms largely remained open, even during a fall surge of the Delta variant.
And although politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams of New York and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, vowed to keep schools open, there were growing fears from parents and educators that more districts would soon turn to remote learning — even though in-school transmission of Covid-19 has been limited.
Those decisions could, in turn, radiate through the country, affecting child care, employment and any confidence that the pandemic’s viselike grip was loosening.
announced on Saturday that classes would be online for the first week of January, just days after saying that classes would be held in person.
widened during previous phases of the pandemic.
“There is a casualness with which some have approached closing schools that I find deeply concerning, precisely because of the severe harms we’ve seen accumulate over the past year when schools were closed,” said Joseph Allen, a Harvard University professor who studies indoor environmental quality, including in schools.