Gov. Newsom Pledged To Keep Schools Open, But One School District Forced to Close

Written by T. Logan Dayne

“Across California, school communities – students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and board members together – have worked tirelessly to keep schools both safe and in-person. California schools have been open because of, not despite of, our priority on safety,” Newsom stated December 22, but in spite of this Bay Area schools are still closing in response to omicron.

This new variant of COVID-19 is the latest as the U.S. enters its third year living with this virus. Omicron cases are now the predominant strain of COVID-19 and cases are spiking as the country is reporting about 400,000 new cases a day. Despite this spike, deaths due to the virus remain particularly low and have “barely budged” over the last 5 weeks. Statistics that caused Chris Hayes from MSNBC to compare this strain to something akin to the flu. He followed up in a tweet saying “The flu can still be dangerous-but we do not reorient our lives around the flu.” John Hopkins University released data from South Africa, Omicron’s origin, showing that as cases were spiking, fatal cases began to hit an all time low.

Despite what should be good news, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) is delaying opening schools citing Omicron as the cause. “In our district, we are seeing far more staff absences than usual because of the virus, and we also have an increased number of students testing positive for COVID-19 as we return from winter break,” Superintendent Kenneth Chris Hurst said in a statement. The “strain” this was causing on the schools will lead to what are called “smoke days” in order to allow any who are sick to heal and “alleviate some of the pressure” on schools. Students have already suffered immensely in California as schools remained closed for over a year. Newsom has not yet responded to comment on this development.

Photo Cred: Anne Wernikoff