The Massachusetts Teachers Association on Friday called for all public schools in the state to be closed Monday. The College of St. Rose in Albany announced it will go remote until at least Jan. 24.
Pressure is on to close schools and begin distance learning as omicron, the dominant COVID-19 variant, surges and advances. Local school districts are not panicking yet, and many are holding to their promise to keep schools open with testing and mask protocols. The painful reality, though, is that another school stoppage is possible.
We are justifiably concerned about the students, but what about the teachers? If frontline teachers become infected and they can’t be in the classroom, who can step in to help? The same goes for teachers whose children have to be quarantined.
This is the age of supply-chain and worker shortages. The substitute teacher deficit already has school districts at least monitoring developments and hoping for the best.
You don’t have to be an educator to grasp the impact physical time away from school has on the academic development of students and on their mental and physical and social health. We have spent much of 2021 trying to repair the damage wrought in 2020.
New York’s 800-plus school districts including those in Greene and Columbia counties will receive at-home COVID-19 testing kits for every student so they can continue their education in person with the holiday season, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Well and good, we say, but the unpleasant truth is that if we don’t have enough teachers to teach, the schools will be forced to switch back to remote learning. It won’t matter if thousands of students have access to at-home test kits.
The challenge will be for school district officials to find and implement creative strategies to keep their buildings open. Nobody wants our schools to close.