Amid omicron wave, some parents in Utah are bringing kids back to distance learning


As COVID-19 cases in Utah peak at any point in the pandemic, disruptions at school come back in force in the new year.

Some school districts across the country have seen a peak absences Monday, while others moved on to distance learning. Meanwhile, the highly contagious variant of omicron is exacerbating continuing staff shortage, which increases the stress of teachers covering their colleagues’ lessons and dealing with bus delays.

In Utah, many parents have decided that it is best to keep their children at home.

“It’s just very anxious,” said Xochi Burgoyne, mother of three young girls in the Jordan School District. “We know that education is very important to them. And so it is difficult to have to weigh their education against their health and safety.

Talia Draper, another parent of two sons in Jordanian schools, said she made the difficult choice of keeping them at home all week as she closely monitored the number of cases and considered getting her vaccinated. eldest son, who is 13, a reminder.

“It’s an almost daily decision, at least for the past two months,” Draper said. “Are they going to school or not?” What is the best thing for our children? “

She said she felt she needed to be especially vigilant about the virus as she has a high-risk son who has severe asthma and was recently hospitalized with another virus.

But she has also kept her two children at home for the past year and a half, where they have fallen behind academically. She said after being vaccinated she felt good about coming back this month. Then omicron struck.

Draper said she felt like she was in an endless version of the board game Settlers of Catan – constantly evaluating the news while still wary of making a bad move.

“I see people all around me all day long who continue to live their normal lives,” she said, “and part of me is wondering how good that would be?”

It’s a familiar feeling for many parents of high-risk children, or for those who have worried about the unpredictability of COVID’s impact on them. Still, Katie Nelson said heading into school on Monday she felt more relaxed than at any time during the pandemic.

Her 5-year-old son is blind and immunocompromised and has mostly attended in-person classes throughout the pandemic. But Nelson said during the break his whole family contracted the virus. It was happily gentle on everyone, including her son who didn’t show any symptoms.

As part of her wants to break free for the first time in nearly two years, she said she still decided to oppose the recent easing of isolation recommendations Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nelson said that sounded like a more mixed post.

“It seemed so different from what we were told to do before,” she said. “As a teacher, I know it doesn’t work. If my students aren’t meeting expectations, I can’t lower it to try and get more people to meet expectations.

Burgoyne said that at this point in the pandemic, it seems most people don’t want to think about it anymore. But she said if there’s one thing to be positive about, it’s that your daughters now know they can do tough things.

They have done well academically throughout the pandemic and don’t seem to mind being among the few children in their schools to wear masks. She said it was something to be proud of.

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