Over 2,000 schools across the country closed their doors or shifted to online learning this week, citing high Omicron cases.
More than 2,000 schools across 21 states closed or switched to remote learning for at least one day this week. Many plan to stay closed or remote for the first few weeks of 2022.
- Chicago public schools closed for the third consecutive day Friday after the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) launched an unauthorized wildcat strike in defiance of Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D). Chicago may take legal action to force schools to reopen.
- Over 340,000 students have been kept out of the classroom amid the standoff. Lightfoot said the teachers unions made Chicago a “laughingstock.”
- Almost 900 public school teachers in San Francisco called out sick on Thursday in a planned sickout to demand better testing, paid sick leave if they contract COVID, along with N95 masks for all students.
- Public schools across New Jersey announced they would meet remotely for the first few weeks of the year.
- Pittsburgh Public Schools were forced to take a “rolling closure approach” due to staffing shortages, shutting down 27 schools this week alone.
- The New York Times reported that six former Biden Administration officials wrote articles proposing a new national plan to deal with COVID-19, advocating for the US to transition to a “new normal” and end emergency policies.
- An article in Vox makes the case that the real cause of school closures is a labor shortage, not a health crisis. Teacher and substitute shortages have only gotten more acute as the pandemic has worn on.
- The Washington Post argued that in Chicago school closures are unsustainable and unacceptable.
- The Wall Street Journal editorial board decried Chicago teachers’ refusal to work and compared them with Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) introduced a program to give $7,000 in education-related assistance to families suffering from school closures.
- The New York Post reminded readers that “science shows Eric Adams is right…to keep NYC schools open.”
- Noah Rothman at Commentary Magazine has a unified theory for government failures during the pandemic: the “competence-ambition disequilibrium.” In plain English – governments are very good at cutting checks, or creating incentives for companies to make vaccines, but very bad at distributing said vaccines – but that didn’t stop them from trying.
The harms of remote learning have been clear for some time. Eric Adams has it right: teachers and public officials cannot “feed into the hysteria” and must keep schools open.
Study after study has found that school closures and remote learning harmed kids and hurt learning and future earning potential. A December global report from the World Bank found that remote learning is not an adequate substitute for in-person education and that remote learning contributes to massive learning losses, especially for poor and marginalized children. The British Medical Journal made the case almost a year ago that closing schools is not evidence based and harms children. Children are not significant sources of COVID-19 transmission. Kids are at more risk of dying from the car-ride to school than COVID-19.
Only one question remains: will the teachers unions listen?
© Dominic Moore, 2022