By Chrissy Clark
More than 2,100 public school districts nationwide closed their doors for in-person learning beginning Jan. 3, according to Burio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker.
As of Jan. 2, 2,181 public schools announced a temporary return to remote learning, many of which cited a spike in COVID-19 cases as a reason for closures, according to Burio’s school opening tracker. The majority of closed schools reside in the broader Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia area.
Several schools announced closures before the new year, including West New York Board of Education schools. Parents were informed Dec. 29 that their children would receive remote instruction from Jan. 3-7 “due to the increase of COVID-19 cases after [the] holiday season.”
Parents with children enrolled in New Jersey’s North Bergen School District are “strongly encouraged” to opt into being a “parent/guardian” within their child’s Google Classroom to help facilitate remote learning, according to the district’s remote learning plan.
School closures are slated to disrupt the learning of 131,708 students in the greater New York City, New Jersey area, despite evidence that children aged 10 years and younger have a higher risk of infection in communities rather than in educational settings.
The closures come in direct opposition to newly inaugurated Mayor Eric Adams’ promise to keep schools open.
“Children are going to be in school,” Adams said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’m keeping my schools open, and we are going to make sure they’ll be in a safe place.”
"Our schools will open," New York City Mayor Eric Adams says on @morning_joe.
"Children are going to be in school. I'm keeping my schools open, and we are going to make sure they'll be in a safe place." https://t.co/neGmaXVDxg
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 3, 2022
Neither Los Angeles Unified Public Schools nor Chicago Public Schools announced school closures, despite pushback from public sector teacher unions. Approximately 90 percent of Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members reportedly vowed to strike if Chicago Public Schools return to in-person learning Jan. 5, according to polling data from the union. (RELATED: Majority Of Chicago’s Unionized Teachers Reportedly Vow To Strike If Schools Remain In-Person)
The CTU scheduled a vote for Jan. 4 to determine whether teachers wish to resume in-person learning Jan. 5. 80 percent of CTU members reportedly said they do not wish to return to in-person instruction given the spike in Omicron variant cases.
New York City mother and self-proclaimed “champion of open schools” Maud Marone pointed out that many teachers outside of big cities want to return to in-person learning, as closures are often stoked by unions and political interest groups rather than teacher interests.
There are teachers everywhere that want to teach, care about their kids, are good at their jobs & make school wonderful for kids. The unions have catered to the most extreme members, stoked fear & bought off politicians. We can’t go on like this. Public school can’t be a ‘maybe’. https://t.co/ceG2RWPo7B
— Maud Maron (@MaudMaron) January 3, 2022
“There are teachers everywhere that want to teach, care about their kids, are good at their jobs, [and] make school wonderful for kids,” Marone said. “The unions have catered to the most extreme members, stoke fear, [and] bought off politicians. We can’t go on like this. Public school can’t be a ‘maybe’.”