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US Anxious. Helpless. Upset. Omicron surge leaves U.S. parents, teachers and students on edge

13:37  14 january  2022
13:37  14 january  2022 Source:   latimes.com

China is risking a big hit to the economy and supply chains with zero-Omicron approach

  China is risking a big hit to the economy and supply chains with zero-Omicron approach The Chinese government's unwavering insistence on stamping out any trace of the coronavirus is facing its biggest test yet as authorities grapple with Omicron's quickening spread. And it could cost the world's second largest economy dearly this year. © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The rest of the world is also dealing with a rapid escalation of Omicron cases, but China is different because of how intent authorities are on preventing any widespread outbreak.

Having students physically present at school is one way to address those students , and it is also important for parents as it allows them to work normally without taking care of kids during the day. This is a situation where there are lots of bad options, and which one is least bad will depend on your perspective. Students , Teachers , Parents , and/or health officials may all have different views of what is best. Do we risk having teachers get sick or possibly die? Do we leave some students behind?

As the latest Covid-19 surge forces millions of Americans to rethink how to stay safe in public spaces, teachers across the country are struggling with how to keep kids safe in the classroom while also addressing their mental health. NBC News’ Ron Allen breaks down what supplies and protocols teachers are calling for to make them feel safe in their jobs.

Tierra Pearson suspected the winter months would mean a sharp surge in coronavirus cases. So the Chicago mother made sure she and her two sons — seventh- and 10th-graders — were fully vaccinated.

Students and parents arrive at Jordan Community Public School in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times) © Provided by LA Times Students and parents arrive at Jordan Community Public School in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times)

“We were going to be prepared,” she recalled.

But as she kept the TV news on around the clock over much of the last two weeks, watching in dismay as leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot battled over safety precautions and schools reopening, Pearson felt far from prepared. She felt helpless.

We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School

  We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About School Critics of teachers and their unions are repeating attacks from the early pandemic, and not paying attention to the real culprits of the crisis.A chorus of critics wants schools open for in-person learning no matter the cost to educators. For example, Dr. Leana Wen, previously the health commissioner of Baltimore, took to Twitter and urged teachers unions to stop unspecified “delays.” She added, “We need all schools to be in-person, now.

“With omicron , we are now having this new surge on top of what was left over from delta.” In Maryland, pediatrician Aaron Milstone with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said emergency visits are extremely high, but few of the children have been sick enough to be admitted to the hospital thus far. He said he has seen more fevers in children with omicron infections than with past variants, and urged parents who have children with “cold” symptoms to assume “it’ s omicron until proven otherwise.”

On Omicron , the spike has mutated so much that the tests cannot detect it and only confirm whether other parts of the virus are present in a person’ s nose and throat swab to tell if they are infected. Oslo 60 who caught Omicron at Norwegian Christmas party all have MILD symptoms including headaches and sore throats, doctors say. Dozens of Christmas party-goers who became infected with suspected cases of Omicron Covid in Norway have only mild symptoms, doctors have revealed.

“We as parents were totally left out of the conversation,” she said. “We had no voice about our schools, and that was truly a shame.”

As the Omicron variant continues to propel a massive surge in infections that has hit many educators and school staff, parents across the nation are faced with painful deja vu: toggling between virtual and in-person schooling and trying to keep up with constantly evolving district policies.

This week the Biden administration announced that it is planning to make 10 million COVID-19 test kits available each month for schools as part of its push to keep classrooms open during this wave of infections — a critical step considering that vaccination rates are lower among children.

Overall, 63% of Americans are fully vaccinated, but among children ages 12 to 17 the rate sits at 54% and among those 5 to 11, the rate drops to 17%. (In Vermont, 48% of that age group are vaccinated; in California, nearly 19%; and in Mississippi, 5%.)

At least 9 African countries set to produce COVID vaccines, Africa’s CDC chief says

  At least 9 African countries set to produce COVID vaccines, Africa’s CDC chief says Despite Africa's low vaccination rates, the continent's early, robust response has helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the continent so far, says Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And he predicts many more vaccines will be available in 2022, with a strong emphasis on distribution.A man gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at a site near Johannesburg, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

High school students who have free time in their schedule were also eligible to participate in the program. MORE: Parents in 'limbo' as schools close, return to virtual learning amid COVID-19 surge . Austin told ABC News that 659 volunteers have signed up for the program. As of Monday, there were three parents who were expected to act as subs this week, according to Savoy. He told the affiliate that the new substitutes would receive all the help they can from the full-time teachers and other staff.

Omicron Cases Rising in Children. Pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations have risen to record levels as omicron races across the U . S ., amplifying the urgency to get boosters and vaccines cleared for children. While the variant so far doesn’t appear more severe than other versions in youngsters, the growing number of cases means more children are susceptible to serious illness.

But disruptions have occurred and at regular intervals.

On average, about 4% of schools across the country — 4,179 of 98,000 schools — dealt with COVID-19 disruptions such as closures this week, according to Burbio, a K-12 school opening tracker. That’s down slightly from 5,376 schools last week and a fraction of the peak that occurred around Labor Day 2020 when more than 60% of schools were closed, said Dennis Roche, Burbio's co-founder.

Most of the closures were in the Northeast and Midwest, but some schools were starting to close in the West and South, Roche said. In Minneapolis, schools will go virtual for two weeks starting Friday because of a surge in Omicron cases among teachers. In Louisville, Ky., Jefferson County Public Schools shifted to remote learning because of COVID staffing shortages, while in the Portland, Ore., metro area, school districts moved to remote learning due to surges in cases and teachers being out sick.

UK health service under 'extreme' strain amid omicron surge

  UK health service under 'extreme' strain amid omicron surge LONDON (AP) — The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss the chance to grill Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the government's COVID-19 policies Wednesday as soaring infections strain the U.K. health system. Johnson said Tuesday that the country has “a chance to ride out” the omicron variant-driven surge in infections without imposing tough lockdown measures. He is scheduled to answer questions in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon and to deliver a statement on COVID-19.

Experts warn that America’ s Omicron surge is already more severe than in other countries and will only get worse as it spreads from highly vaccinated cities to less protected parts of the U . S . Word of a new U . S . hospitalization record may surprise Americans who have repeatedly heard that the hypermutated Omicron variant — which has triggered an unprecedented wave of breakthrough cases in vaccinated and previously infected individuals — is ultimately milder because it’ s less likely to seriously sicken those who catch it .

Universities in South Korea can't find enough students , and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks." Is it all true? It remains to be verified. BAHAI are brainwashed modern useful idiots who will get the same treatment as everyone else. The only reason anyone is hyper focused on the environment is because the BRITISH EMPIRE used their influence over education through their royal societies to make sure teachers brainwashed children.

Across the U.S., students are threatening boycotts and walkouts. The Oakland Unified School District faces such a strike unless it addresses a list of pandemic health and safety concerns. Students want the district to return to remote learning unless it provides KN95 masks for all kids and are calling for increased testing, among other demands. On Jan. 7, 12 district schools were forced to close after teachers staged a “sickout,” citing COVID worries. About 500 teachers were reported absent. And in New York, hundreds of students in recent days boycotted classes and staged walkouts over concerns about testing and called for remote learning to be implemented.

“We’re really in a pressure cooker situation right now, because American families are holding up the economy, we're holding up the healthcare system and then we're also expected to hold up the public education system,” said Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, a network of grass-roots parent groups. “A lot of families across this country are absolutely at their breaking point.”

Child hospitalizations reach record high amid omicron surge: WSJ

  Child hospitalizations reach record high amid omicron surge: WSJ Child hospitalizations in the United States and United Kingdom are reaching record highs amid the omicron surge, but it is not yet clear the exact role COVID-19 is playing, according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal.While England saw a peak of 160 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in August for children 5 years and younger, that number reached 576 in the week to Jan. 9, the Journal noted.Earlier this month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said that pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. had reached record levels.There were 4.

For many parents who live paycheck to paycheck, taking a few days off when schools close can mean the difference between having groceries or not and making rent or not, Rodrigues said. Beyond the financial loss, many parents worried that their kids' mental health and grades would deteriorate when schools switch to remote learning.

“When you close down schools over an abundance of caution, understand what you are asking of American families who are already at the brink,” she said.

This week the Clark County School District, which spans Las Vegas and is the nation’s fifth largest school system with more than 320,000 students, announced it was canceling classes for two days due to extreme staffing shortages.

Jessica Atlas, a 46-year-old single mother, was already frustrated with the school district for not planning activities for her son, Ashton, 9, while he quarantined this week after he caught the flu and she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I feel like the bottom’s falling out,” Atlas said, noting that Ashton had not been sent home with any additional schoolwork.

“There should be a plan in place if you send kids home. But there’s no organization, no real leadership and no real plan to catch these babies failing all over the place.”

The district said there would be no remote learning on the canceled school days.

Omicron fuels unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases

  Omicron fuels unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases The omicron variant is fueling an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases and placing a strain on hospital capacity, but experts say the spike could play out in the shape of an "ice pick" - a sharp but fast increase - that may leave the U.S. on better footing as soon as next month. The U.S. health care system is in for significant pain in the short term, but the fast surge could even help defeat the pandemic in the longer term by conveying broader immunity.

“I’m on the edge of my seat just waiting with anxiety,” she said. “Are we going backwards? Are we going to be shut down completely?”

In Atlanta, six metro school districts began classes online after winter break because of high COVID-19 case counts. But by Monday, all but one reopened to offer in-person classes — even as they continued to battle high case rates and staff shortages.

“One of the most consequential takeaways over the past 22 months is that there is no doubt our young people need the positive influences and safe spaces our employees and school campuses provide more than ever,“ Mary Elizabeth Davis, superintendent of Henry County Schools south of Atlanta, wrote in a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Pandemic or no pandemic, our belief in the power of in-person learning will remain strong, and we will continue to do everything we can to provide that wholesome experience for the success of our youth….”

Still, many students across the Atlanta area remained out of school.

Even as Atlanta Public Schools resumed in-person classes, Maria Arias, 46, a mother with two children in high school and two in day care, kept her kids home because her family had contracted COVID-19 over the winter break.

A grass-roots member of the Latino Assn. for Parents of Public Schools, Arias couldn’t go back to work as a server at a small ice cream parlor until her youngest children tested negative and could return to day care. “It’s just hard,” Arias said as she struggled to keep her older kids on task with their schoolwork.

China on high alert as Covid-19 cluster in Tianjin edges closer to Beijing weeks before the Olympics

  China on high alert as Covid-19 cluster in Tianjin edges closer to Beijing weeks before the Olympics Officials in Beijing are on high alert just weeks out from the start of the Winter Olympics, after China's first local outbreak of the Omicron variant spread from the northern port city of Tianjin to the central province of Henan. © Visual China Group/Getty Images Residents wait in line to get tested for Covid-19 on January 9 in Tianjin, China. Tianjin, located just 80 miles southeast of Beijing, is testing its entire population of 14 million people after Omicron was detected in at least two local residents Saturday -- the country's first reported community spread of the highly transmittable variant.

In recent months, the issue of schools opening or closing has become a battle between politicians and unions.

Last week, President Biden said “we have no reason to think at this point that Omicron is worse for children than previous variants.”

“We know that our kids can be safe when in school, by the way. That’s why I believe schools should remain open. They have what they need,” he added.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who took office this month, stood firm on plans to reopen schools in the new year. But in recent days, as cases in the city rise sharply, Adams has considered a virtual learning plan, but it has not been implemented.

Back in Chicago, the school district reopened this week after a two-week standoff between Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union.

The union wanted the option to revert to remote instruction across the 350,000-student district, and without it, hundreds of teachers refused to teach in person for the last two weeks.

Still, Chicago leaders, including Lightfoot, rejected districtwide remote learning, saying that it’s detrimental to students and that schools are safe.

After several days of back-and-forth negations, both sides reached an agreement that included provisions for additional testing and metrics allowing for schools with major virus outbreaks to close and go virtual.

Natalie Neris, chief of community engagement at Kids First Chicago, a group that advocates for more resources for students, said the interests of families must be at the forefront of debates.

“Parents are the consistent stakeholder,” she said. “Everyone would benefit from recognizing their importance, listening to them more intently, and putting kids first daily.”

For Pearson, 32, a hybrid option provides a sense of ease. Last week, she began feeling sick and got tested along with her kids. Each of their results came back negative, except for her son who is in seventh grade, who tested positive. He had no symptoms. She kept him home from school this week.

“It’s all over the place with this virus, and things are changing daily,” she said. “Schools need to adjust and be flexible as well.”

Lee reported from Los Angeles and Jarvie from Atlanta.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Finding it hard to get tested for COVID-19 and wondering who’s to blame? We’ve got answers .
The fast-moving omicron variant has exposed the nation’s testing capacity as still insufficient, a situation exacerbated by post-holiday demandBut the fast-moving variant has exposed the nation’s testing capacity as still insufficient, a situation exacerbated by the holidays as companies test returning employees and schools and universities screen students and staff. Confronted with empty store shelves or lengthy lines at testing sites nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, frustrated consumers, doctors and public health workers wonder who's at fault.

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