Students across the United States are planning walkouts to protest in-person learning amid a national spike in omicron COVID-19 cases.
More than 4,100 schools nationwide were closed on Tuesday, a slight reduction from the more than 5,400 schools closed last week after the winter break, according to community events website Burbio, which tracks the closures. schools in more than 5,000 US school districts. The closures are largely due to rising COVID-19 cases and related staffing shortages.
In New York, students at Brooklyn Technical High School made headlines on Tuesday after videos posted to social media showed swathes of students leaving a school building in the middle of the day, protesting in-person learning. amid an apparent lack of testing for students and staff, according to local reports.
“We don’t feel safe at school,” a Brooklyn Tech junior told the New York Post on Tuesday. “It’s about that simple. There are so many cases floating around and we think more should be done.”
Sources told the Post that some teachers gave students the green light to leave class while others said they could face disciplinary action for doing so. Other Stuyvesant and Bronx Science students also participated in walkouts, according to the outlet.
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Newly elected mayor Eric Adams insisted at a news conference on Friday that the ‘safest place’ for children is ‘in school’ in response to a reporter’s question about the walkouts .
Dr. Sara Bode, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health, told Fox News Digital last week that she believes schools working to mitigate COVID-19 transmission are among the safest places for children to be right now versus places in their communities that don’t have mitigation strategies in place.
A teacher teaches masked students in their classroom at Yung Wing School PS 124 on September 27, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
“Of course, it’s not a zero risk to have children in school. With this increase in transmissibility, we’ll probably see an increase in cases in schools, but it’s probably not a risk anymore. higher than most other activities children participate in when they’re not in school,” she said.
The Boston Student Advisory Council, made up of elected student leaders from Boston Public School (BPS), is planning a walkout on Friday.
TEACHERS’ UNIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CITE COVID RISE TO DEMAND STOP IN-PERSON LEARNING
A graphic posted on the council’s social media reads: “Walk with us to protect our students, families and teachers.” The graphic lists the following requests: two weeks of remote learning, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for teachers, COVID-19 testing for students and teachers, accessible food stations, classrooms assigned to improve contact tracing, excused absences and more.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who has also argued that schools are the “best” places for students amid COVID, announced on Tuesday that the state had placed an order for 26 million rapid antigen tests to distribute. over the next three months with priority to K-12 schools and other daycares
REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA
On the opposite coast, students at Redondo Union High School (RUHS) in Redondo Beach, Calif., also planned a strike Wednesday to protest in-person classes.
FAUCI, TEACHER UNIONS IN TROUBLE OVER SCHOOL REOPENING
“These guidelines are good, but what good is it if they are not applied? Michael Lee Chang, a senior from Redondo Union High School, told FOX 11 Los Angeles. “The biggest clubs always meet indoors for lunch. You know, we’re scared. I’m seeing eight to 18 students missing from each of my classes right now. Most because they’re out of COVID , but some because they’re not comfortable dealing with the current issue of students testing positive for COVID or having been exposed to it while attending school.
Students in Redondo, Calif., hold a walkout to protest in-person classes. (FOX 11 Los Angeles)
RUHS told Fox News in a statement that “all concerns raised via social media, regarding COVID protocols and safety, are addressed directly with the student(s) involved.”
In the Midwest, where the Chicago Public Schools System (CPS) has been in the headlines amid negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) that ended on Tuesday, students are also planning a Friday strike.
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“We demand that our voices not only be listened to or heard, but that the voice of our concerns be implemented within the structures,” reads a poster shared on social networks.
CHICAGO TEACHERS LEADER UNION UNDER FIRE TO ADVANCE DISTANCE SCHOOL DURING CARIBBEAN VACATION
The walkout comes after CPS and CTU reached an agreement earlier this week, allowing classes to resume for in-person learning on Wednesday. The deal, which received close approval from CTU members in a vote, will allow schools to resume remote learning if 25% of staff test positive for COVID-19. It also ensures access to an increased number of tests and personal protective equipment and improves contact tracing measures in all public schools.
Ahead of negotiations, union leaders were calling for a return to remote learning until a deal is reached or COVID-19 cases “substantially” disappear. The union, however, accused CPS of excluding teachers from their online teaching platforms while negotiations were underway so that a remote learning option was not possible.
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The White House and Education Department Secretary Miguel Cardona have expressed support for keeping schools open.
The White House announced on Wednesday that a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million PCR lab tests will be made available to schools starting this month to ease supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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