‘Insurmountable’: Parents Grapple With Omicron’s Upending Force in Schools

‘Insurmountable’: Parents Grapple With Omicron’s Upending Force in Schools

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Many parents said they didn’t trust other members of their communities to take precautions.

“I sent my kids to public school in more robust masks than they usually wear, but I don’t have any other way to protect them,” wrote Andrea Rease, a health care worker in San Francisco who said there were some unvaccinated children and parents at the school where her three 5-year-olds attend kindergarten. “They are freshly vaccinated, but I don’t feel the relief I thought I would.”

Others described the toll that a year or more of remote learning had taken on their children, and the pain of suddenly returning to it.

Danielle Kline Haber wrote that about an hour into remote learning on Monday, after months in which her son’s school in Hamilton Township, N.J., had been open, “our 14-year-old came out from his room and said, ‘I had forgotten how much I hate virtual learning.’” In a follow-up interview, she said she was exhausted from the “constantly shifting guidance.”

Marise, a mother in Philadelphia — who asked to be identified by her middle name because she did not want to cause conflict at her children’s private school before she could transfer them to public school, which is open in person — said that her children, ages 6 and 8, had suffered mentally and academically from remote learning.

“Our school is still operating as though it is March 2020,” she said, adding that she had no idea when the school would reopen; administrators plan to test the entire student body on Tuesday before deciding. She is a nurse and can’t work remotely, and while her husband can do so this week, they will have no access to child care once he has to return to the office.

“Schools should be the absolute last thing to close,” Marise said. “I can eat in a restaurant today, but my kids are home. This is nonsensical.”

Kate, who asked that her last name be withheld because speaking publicly could jeopardize her job, is also frustrated. Schools in her town, Maplewood, N.J., are remote this week, and she said she feared that even when they reopened for in-person learning, her children — ages 7 and 10 — would be sent home, because every student in a class must quarantine if even one person in the class tests positive.

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