School Closures Restart Across US Due to Omicron Variant

As+of+Monday%2C+Jan.+31%2C+Round+Rock+ISD+has+opted+to+continue+in-person+learning.+Several+other+districts+across+the+nation+switched+to+virtual+learning+in+January+due+to+the+spread+of+the+Omicron+Variant.+Photo+courtesy+of+Brian+J.+Matis

Brian J. Matis

As of Monday, Jan. 31, Round Rock ISD has opted to continue in-person learning. Several other districts across the nation switched to virtual learning in January due to the spread of the Omicron Variant. Photo courtesy of Brian J. Matis

Hannah McDonough, Community & World News Editor

With Omicron spreading rapidly, some US school districts are transitioning to virtual learning once again. As of January 2, around 3,229 schools throughout the country announced they would not start the semester with in-person learning. 

“I feel very unsafe in our school environment, especially with Westwood getting a case almost daily,” Rashi Sharma ‘25 said. “If the cases are high, then it is absolutely the right move to close temporarily.”

Schools all over the country have more and more students and staff absent due to the highly contagious spread of Omicron, causing some schools and districts to return to a virtual school setting. 

“They are doing what they think is necessary to protect the safety of others and their health,” Renitha Ramesh ‘24 said. “I feel like we should shut down to protect the health of other people, especially people who are high risk.” 

Students who are quarantined are missing instructional time in classes which can make it difficult to keep up with schoolwork. With teachers quarantined with the virus, and an ongoing struggle to find substitutes, in-person classes are also disrupted by the lack of teachers.  

“Being quarantined and keeping up with school has been difficult,” Isabelle Hunt ‘23 said. “The only communication with a student and teacher is [by] email so if I have any questions or really need help with a math problem, I have to wait.” 

Many schools that remain open are taking certain precautions such as mask mandates and contact tracing. However with new cases reported, some schools still opt to return to virtual learning for the time being. 

“The responsible thing to do would be to go back to virtual learning,” Ashley Jordan ‘24 said. “I don’t feel like high schoolers are the best about social distancing and wearing their masks.” 

However, according to the CDC, attending virtual school poses potential risks to students’ mental health and academic success. 

“I wasn’t very focused at all but I got through [virtual learning],” Jordan said. “It would be easier [now] because we’re actually in the school year and we have the momentum going.” 

Students in Round Rock ISD are fighting for COVID-19 safety with a recent petition and walkout demanding to switch to virtual learning and create safer in-person learning environments.