Amid COVID surge, these schools have stayed open. Leaders explain how they're doing it.

 The omicron COVID-19 variant couldn't have hit at a worse time for US schools. As consensus solidified that schools should strive to stay open, the mutation riddled staff and students with often mild but isolation-inducing illness. Disruptions hit a new high last week: More than 7,000 campuses closed or went virtual for at least one day, according to the most recent data from school tracker Burbio, up from about 5,500 the week prior. Many extended the long weekend by an extra day to deal with staff shortages. Others called in parents, police officers and even the National Guard to help. In all, thousands of schools stayed open despite the surge, even in dense cities with significantly high transmission. Here's how some schools went extra lengths to keep disruptions to children to a minimum. Philadelphia: A Surgical Approach Philadelphia faced well-publicized struggles to keep schools open. Positive cases driving staff shortages forced 90 schools into virtual learning at the start of second semester. But more than 100 district schools in Philadelphia stayed fully open during the omicron surge – at a time when almost 1 in 3 COVID-19 tests in the city were coming back positive. And as of Wednesday, the number of schools operating virtually had dropped to just 14, district data showed. “We decided to take a more surgical approach,” said Bill Hite, superintendent of Philadelphia Public Schools. “The fact that we would consider closing all schools doesn't make a lot of sense, nor is it serving children.” Philadelphia's teachers union pushed back, saying heightened protocols were necessary for safety. The district was still working to secure higher-grade masks for staff in mid-January, for example. But more than 85% of staff are vaccinated, and even they must take a COVID-19 test weekly. Unvaccinated staff must test twice as often. Philadelphia's health department has since released more guidance aimed at maximizing in-class time, saying schools should only close because of a staff shortage, not high case counts. To help support isolated and quarantined students learning virtually, Philadelphia assigns them a quarantine teacher who coordinates with their main educators and specialists. -online-free-streaming-how-to-watch,48530 http://providenceonline. com/p/amid-covid-surge-these-schools-have http: // /5529681/amid-covid-surge-these-schools-have-stayed-open.-leaders-explain-how-theyre-doing-it. -stayed-open/ http :// https://www.click4r.

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