Record numbers of students and staff are staying away from school, due to the omicron spike, in spite of efforts to keep schools open, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
Low attendance: Depressed attendance has created significant hurdles for teachers and students alike, impeding instruction, learning and administration across school districts nationwide. School districts are seeing a considerable drop in attendance rates even as they contend with staff shortages. In New York City, the nation’s largest school district, overall attendance rates dropped below 70% following the holiday break, dipping drastically from the pre-pandemic average of more than 91% students at school each day. In Boston’s public schools, nearly 49,000 students tested positive for COVID-19 along with 4,400 teachers.
Teachers’ quandary: Teachers must weigh making progress in learning objectives against ensuring that absent students are able to catch up on missed content. Many teachers continue to introduce new content, while keeping absent students on track via after-school Zoom calls. Some teachers have set up a camera in the back of their classroom or have present students livestream the class to their homebound peers.
Students’ struggle: Children who miss class could experience academic and social setbacks. While some school districts offer additional tutorial services, students may also feel alienated from online instruction. Increasing absenteeism makes collaborative learning and extracurricular activities tougher; it could also mean lower standardized test scores.
In related news: You should not—repeat, should not—deliberately try to catch omicron. CNN offers five reasons why.