State schools

Tri-state schools to move away in 2022 amid Omicron outbreak

Schools in the tri-state area are scrambling to figure out how to safely open after Christmas break amid an Omicron wave – and some are already planning to go virtual in early January.

The Paterson, New Jersey School District announced on Wednesday that learning will be fully virtual for students and staff from Jan.4 to Jan.18 following a spike in cases. The 4th largest district in Garden State has already upgraded two high schools to virtual learning.

“The growing number of COVID-19 cases due to multiple variants is of concern to all of us. Paterson Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer said in a press release. “A wave of new cases has occurred in northeast New Jersey, and the trend is expected to continue over the holidays.”

New Jersey reported 9,711 new cases on Wednesday, a record high, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.

New York City Public Attorney Jumaane Williams said on Saturday that schools should immediately return to distance learning as the Omicron sweeps the city, calling it “the obvious” ahead of Christmas. The three New York City schools that closed overnight last week are among 835 K-12 public schools that closed last week, according to the Burbio tracking site.

Paterson’s Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer has announced a temporary switch to distance learning for students in her New Jersey school district.
Paterson Public Schools

Some schools in the tri-state area will consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new “test-to-stay” approach introduced last week. The agency said unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 can stay in school if they are tested – a radical change from the previous policy requiring unvaccinated students to self-quarantine for 10 days after the exhibition.

New Jersey revised its guidelines last week, reducing the quarantine time for students to seven days if they test negative between the fifth and seventh day.

The state is also planning to pilot a “test-to-stay” model in some schools, working with school nurses to establish curricula, according to the state. The programs are already in use in some states and are meant to keep children in school instead of forcing them into a long quarantine.

But “test to stay,” which will likely rely heavily on rapid testing, is not a panacea.

A child undergoes a nasal swab test for COVID-19 in Glen Rock, NJ, amid the COVID-19 omicron variant outbreak on December 21, 2021.
Christophe Sadowski

Rapid tests are “good, not perfect” for early detection, said Kara Cannon, operations director of Enzo Clinical Labs, which operates dozens of labs in the tri-state region that perform Covid testing.

Eastside High School in Paterson NJ
The Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, has already gone virtual in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey recorded nearly 10,000 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
Tariq Zehawi / / USA Today Network / Sipa USA

“At first when you’re not having symptoms, you probably don’t have a lot of viruses in your system, and rapid tests can’t detect these low levels of viruses,” Cannon said. PCR tests, which required a laboratory for processing and are considered the “gold standard”, are able to detect smaller amounts of the virus.

“If you have symptoms, a rapid test will probably detect it, but for kids in schools who may have just been exposed to friends, this is where I would say the rapid test may not be. not the best way. “

Katie Lucey administers a COVID-19 test on her son Maguire during a PCR and Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test that displays on Wall Street in New York on Thursday, December 16, 2021.
Schools in the tri-state area hope to stockpile rapid COVID-19 tests so unvaccinated students can stay in the classroom.
AP Photo / Ted Shaffrey
A sign marks the entrance to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
New Jersey no longer follows the CDC’s recommended quarantine period for positive cases, allowing students to self-isolate for seven days instead of ten.
AP Photo / David Goldman, file

Still, Cannon said, “Ultimately, any kind of preventative measure is going to help us” – and these are the kinds of tough decisions schools must weigh once again as Omicron breaks state records. in new cases registered.

Follow the latest news on the Omicron variant with live coverage from the New York Post

Oswego City School District closed its door to students this week and went remote with a large group of sick and quarantined staff and students.

New York City Public Counsel Jumaane Williams
Public attorney Jumaane Williams is asking New York City schools to move away immediately.
AP Photo / Marie Altaffer

The district superintendent said the children would return to school at the start of the new year, especially if he could get his hands on rapid tests.