Over 3,200 schools will be closed or condemned to remote learning this week as officials fear the low-risk omicron variant of the coronavirus.
School districts across the country are grappling with how to move forward with coronavirus protocols as it appears clear that new variants will continue to come and virtual learning and mask mandates are extremely detrimental to the education, social development, and mental health of children.
Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that he believes “very firmly and very passionately” that “students belong in the classroom and that we can do it safely,” and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News that increased vaccination rates and testing make it “safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out.”
Schools should be approaching Omicron with caution – but NOT fear. Just like we teach in the classroom, we can learn from past experiences, trust the science, and use tools like test-to-stay & vaccination to keep schools safe & open.
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) December 29, 2021
Despite this, many large school districts like Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, have decided to extend winter break to implement widescale testing before returning to school, as well as closures or remote learning.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has rolled out a “test-to-stay” strategy that aims at keeping children in school during “a large wave” of cases. Complicating testing matters, the FDA recently announced that rapid response tests are less effective at detecting omicron.
While we must remain vigilant, we've learned that mitigation strategies like vaccinations, masking, and test-to-stay work – and American Rescue Plan funds can pay for them.
Let’s keep kids in classrooms and beat this virus together. pic.twitter.com/3bsdM8df0b
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) December 27, 2021
The Biden administration and school districts are focusing on case numbers, and despite the fact that White House coronavirus response coordinator warned Americans about a “winter of severe illness and death,” many reports indicate that omicron is a relatively mild form of the virus and has been compared to a cold.
White House COVID Response Coordinator tells unvaccinated Americans to be prepared to die:
“You're looking at a winter of severe illness and death.” pic.twitter.com/HU5d7WJ9YH
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) December 20, 2021
The mildness of omicron has not slowed leftists trying to delay schools from opening to in-person learning. Center for Vaccine Development director Dr. Peter Hotez told CNN recently that schools should delay opening “for a couple weeks,” despite admitting that keeping children out of class is detrimental to their development and health.
Similarly, Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced on Twitter last week that while “working together to keep classrooms open,” students and families can “expect … situational virtual learning throughout the semester, especially in the coming weeks.”
As Breitbart News has reported, many parents are seeking alternatives to public schooling and enrollment continues to decline, favoring private or homeschooling. While leftist organizations call the change “troubling,” advocates for school choice deem it a welcome phenomenon.
Indeed, according to Free to Learn, one school has decided to “revert to our pre-COVID health policy” in which cases “will be treated as equivalent to all other illnesses for the purposes of school attendance.”
This is the way forward, keep the schools open.pic.twitter.com/W0N3tHazLr
— Free to Learn (@ftlcoalition) January 3, 2022
UPDATE: The number of school closures has increased from 2,753 to 3,229 since press time.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.