Remote Learning Needed to Slow Omicron Wave

A boy takes a Zoom class at the Westchester Family YMCA which provides safe distance learning for local students in Los Angeles, Calif., March 2, 2021. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Teachers’ advocacy organization National Educators United is demanding a pause to in-person learning due to the Omicron wave spreading across the school districts.

 describes itself as an ally of national teachers’ unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, which were both instrumental in influencing CDC guidelines to favor school closures or more stringent school Covid-19 restrictions.

In a Twitter post from Friday, the group said: “Recklessly opening school buildings right now instead of working to reduce community transmission is, once again, needlessly putting millions of lives at risk. National #2weeks pause NOW to #ProtectOurCommunity Let’s #Unite4SafeSchools.”

It directs viewers to a petition stating the NEU’s demands, namely frequent Covid-19 testing, vaccination and masking of all eligible students, air purifiers, and smaller class sizes.

“Educators, Parents, Students, and Community members across the nation stand united in support of President Biden’s Covid mitigation strategy ‘test to stay.’ We support testing at least twice a week in order to remain in school with Covid negative test results. We support this approach for a safer in-person learning environment. But, in light of Omicron and variants that follow, more protections are required,” the statement reads.

In the name of the students and teachers’ safety, the NEU then called for a national return to remote instruction for at least two weeks to slow transmission of the Omicron variant.

“Record-breaking COVID transmission rates nationwide, coupled with a scarcity of covid tests and N-95 masks for all, forces students and educators to return from Winter Break to school buildings that are no longer safe. A national two-week pause of in-person learning, at minimum, ensures the safety of students, public-education workers, and our communities. Globally, science has shown that a two-week or more pause can reduce schools to households spread even when community infection is high.”

After the Covid-19 surge wrought by the delta variant subsided, many school districts around the country returned to the classroom after many months at home. Since the pandemic peaked, teachers unions and organizations like the NEU have resisted the transition, citing the need to protect faculty and children from the disease, even as vaccination rates increased.

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