- Schools across the country are once again shuttering and transitioning to virtual instruction amid the Omicron surge.
- Some are opting to close their doors just days before planned holiday breaks due to outbreaks or concern of spread.
- Closures have been reported in districts everywhere from Maine to Missouri as case counts rise.
Schools around the country are shutting their doors early ahead of planned winter break schedules in response to the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
East Coast schools in states such as New York, Maryland, and Maine were among the first this week to announce they are once again temporarily shuttering and opting to transition to virtual learning to slow the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, as Omicron's reach spreads to other regions of the country, schools in districts like Missouri and Mississippi are quickly following suit.
In New York City — which has been among the hardest hit by the Omicron variant, with a record number of 21,027 positive coronavirus cases reported on Friday — there were a total of 845 classroom closures as of Saturday morning. The city reported there are currently a total of 544 confirmed COVID-19 cases, which includes 370 students and 174 staff members.
And while the New York City Department of Education is reportedly working to quell rumors of a full district shutdown, school districts across the country ranging form Prince George's County in Maryland to Oxford School District in Maine have opted for temporary closures.
In a memo posted on the Prince George's County official website, CEO Monica Goldson wrote that all 200 schools in the district will transition to remote learning beginning Monday, four days before holiday break.
"Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community," Goldson wrote in the memo. "The increased positivity rates have significantly challenged the ability to do so, causing anxiety among many school communities and disruption to the school day."
As case counts continue to rise, closures are increasingly cropping up beyond the East Coast, including in states like Missouri and Mississippi.
"It's already ramping back up," Michael Allgood, a high-school teacher in Missouri, told The Daily Beast. "I can easily teach virtually through Google meets and Zoom though, so it is what it is."