As COVID-19 cases skyrocket among teachers, school officials are once again scrambling to keep schools open.
School districts in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada announced this week that they will temporarily close or switch to distance learning amid a worsening teacher shortage.
In Indiana, at least four school districts in Marion County, including Indianapolis public schools, have switched to distance learning this week. IPS announced on Wednesday that the decision “was made on the basis of the number of staff absences, including the isolation of COVID-19 and quarantines at the medium and secondary levels.”
North Carolina has moved to allow state employees to use their volunteer days to replace paid substitute teachers, Governor Roy Cooper said on Wednesday. All schools in the Carson City School District in Nevada were also closed for part of this week due to an increase in the number of staff infected with COVID.
The increase in the number of cases fueled by the omicron variant is hitting other school staff as well. Maryland’s largest school district has asked the National Guard to replace bus drivers after staff increases resulted in the cancellation of 40 to 80 bus lines, ABC News reported.
Samantha Farrow, a 16-year-old activist student at Stuyvesant High School and organizer of a walkout this week, said many schools in New York City remained “pretty desolate” with classrooms half empty and empty. countless missing teachers.
Farrow said most of his teachers this week were absent due to exposure or infection to COVID. Due to understaffing, most days were “non-teaching days” spent reading alone or scrolling through her phone.
“It doesn’t seem like a good use of our time,” she said.
In a reversal of his pledge to keep students in schools, New York City Mayor Eric Adams told a press conference Thursday that he was also considering a return to distance learning because attendance of students is also weakening amid spikes in COVID cases.
Also in the news:
►President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the government will double rapid home COVID-19 tests to 1 billion that will be distributed free to Americans.
► Cruise lines will no longer be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines on ships, as the CDC’s framework for the conditional navigation order, which was extended and changed in October, will expire on Saturday.
??The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 63.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 846,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 319 million cases and nearly 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.8% – are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
??What we read: Was Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling Biden’s COVID vaccination campaign ‘dagger to the heart’? Some say the president still has other options.
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Center for COVID Control nationwide testing sites to be ‘suspended’
A national coronavirus testing company under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and which has drawn criticism from customers in several states on Thursday announced a “week-long hiatus from all operations.”
The break was scheduled to take effect from Friday to January 21 at all Center for COVID Control test sites. The Illinois-based company’s website says it has more than 300 U.S. locations in multiple states. Two of them, Massachusetts and Washington, took action this week to shut down several of the company’s testing centers in their communities.
In an internal company memo to “all site owners and managers” obtained by USA TODAY, the Center for COVID Control cited “extensive media review of our collection site operations” during last week. The company claims to process 80,000 test requests per day.
“This, coupled with various customer complaints, has caused various state health departments and even the Department of Justice to take a close interest in our business,” the notice reads.
– Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
Supreme Court blocks mandate for COVID vaccine or test for workplaces
The Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the application of one of President Joe Biden’s signature efforts to fight COVID-19, ruling that his administration did not have the power to impose vaccine or testing requirements on employers who would have covered tens of millions of Americans.
The unsigned opinion, which came days after judges heard arguments in the emergency appeal, marked the second time that the country’s highest court has unraveled a pandemic policy of the Biden administration, concluding in again that federal officials had overstepped the power vested in them by Congress. The court blocked the moratorium on Biden’s evictions in August, ruling it was also an overrun.
The issue in the workplace case was whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had the power to impose the requirements under a 1970 statute.
It was not immediately clear what options, if any, the Biden administration has to respond to the decision. In a statement, the president said he was “disappointed” and that it was now “up to states and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees.”
– John Fritze, USA TODAY
Contributor: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; The Associated Press