Omicron Threat Pushes Harvard Into Online Learning For Early January – Kaiser Health News

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Harvard University said Saturday it would implement remote learning for the first three weeks of 2022. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, said that unvaccinated students exposed to covid can remain in school subject to a testing regime.
NBC News: Harvard Plans To Go Remote In January As Covid-19 Cases Surge
Harvard University announced Saturday that it will return to remote learning for the first few weeks of 2022 as infection concerns grow in the face of a new coronavirus variant. The Ivy League institution told students and staff that it would spend the first three weeks of January returning to online courses as coronavirus infections increase locally and worldwide. Only students who were authorized to remain on campus or are given permission to return to campus should plan on coming back from winter break in that time. (Madani, 12/19)
Axios: Omicron Surge Pushes Elite Colleges Back Into 2020 Mode 
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is forcing colleges and universities to adjust their pandemic policies, with Harvard announcing Saturday that it will go remote for the first three weeks of January in an attempt to stymie the spread on campus. Omicron is threatening to overturn the new normal as it drives COVID-19 cases to double every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread. (Saric, 12/19)
In other school news —
The New York Times: C.D.C. Says Unvaccinated Students Exposed To Virus Can ‘Test And Stay’ 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that unvaccinated students exposed to the coronavirus can remain in school, as long as they are tested for the virus twice in the week after and both tests come back negative. The new guidance, known as the “test-to-stay” protocol, could ease the burden on children who have been expected to stay home if a close contact tested positive for the virus, and on parents who have had to scramble to retrieve them from school or find day care. It also aims to minimize disruptions to learning as two highly contagious variants of the virus spread across the country, causing some school closures and threatening to upend the strategies that federal and state officials adopted to return to in-person classes in the fall. (Weiland and Anthes, 12/17)
The Boston Globe: What Happens When Students Remove Masks? These Mass. Schools Are Finding Out.
At least five schools in Massachusetts — including Westborough’s high school and middle school, Norwell High School, and King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham — have allowed vaccinated students to unmask. Most of the school districts have not seen significant increases in COVID cases among students or staff, state data show. Until this past week, neither had Hopkinton High. But as of Friday, the school had recorded 15 new cases. “It’s been exciting to get back to some sense of normalcy, but as we’re seeing an uptick in cases, we’re once again getting reality shoved at us,” said Hopkinton math teacher Jenna Galster, whose statistics class was about half-masked Thursday. To become exempt from the state’s school mask mandate, the schools had to first attest to the state that 80 percent of students and staff were fully vaccinated. (Martin, 12/19)
In mental health news —
AP: Schools Use Therapy-Based Programs For 'Overwhelmed' Kids 
On a windy December morning in rural southwest Michigan, an American flag flapped at half-staff outside Paw Paw Early Elementary School. A social worker with a miniature therapy dog named Trixie offered comfort at the entry doors. Children wearing face masks scampered off buses into the morning chill, some stooping to pet the shaggy pup before ambling inside. Like kids in so many cities and towns around the globe, the youngsters in Michigan’s Van Buren Intermediate School District have been through a lot these past few years. A relentless pandemic that continues to disrupt classrooms, sicken friends and loved ones, and has left some district families jobless and homeless. Three student suicide attempts since in-person school resumed full-time this fall, two student suicides last year. And now, a deadly shooting just two days earlier at a school a few hours away. (Tanner, 12/20)
Cincinnatti Enquirer: Mental Health Crisis Among Children: Ohio At Breaking Point
For long before the pandemic, Ohio’s mental health care for children stood in crisis: not enough access, beds or caregivers. The head of the state’s pediatric hospital association says matters have only gotten worse nearly two years into the global health emergency. But by the end of the year, a panel of experts must drop a report pointing the way for the state to improve the system, from the ground up. Formed through 2019 legislation signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, the panel’s report will propose ways to broaden availability, recruit and retain workers and build needed facilities. Most of all, the group has focused on prevention. (Saker, 12/20)
Chicago Tribune: COVID-19 Hardships Fuel Student Behavior Crisis 
When Illinois classrooms fully reopened for in-person learning this fall, teachers anticipated many of their students would need plenty of academic and emotional support to recover from 18 months of COVID-19 disruptions to their education. But just three months into the new school year, pandemic-era quarantines and virus outbreaks have been upstaged by a surge in troubling student behavior that even veteran educators say is unlike anything they have witnessed during decades of teaching. (Cullotta, 12/19)
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