New York City students walked out of school Tuesday as part of a protest calling for a temporary halt in in-person learning amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Some New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) students walked out of class at 11:52 a.m. to protest in-person learning amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and the rise of the omicron variant, according to social media posts from walkout organizer “NYC Student Walkout for COVID Safety.”
“The ultimate goal of the walkout is to garner attention from policy-makers that can help close down schools temporarily,” the organizing group said in an Instagram post. “Remote and/or hybrid instruction will occur in the meantime, until covid cases drop from the current spike.”
“At the moment, school is only spreading COVID and taking teachers and students away from classrooms,” another post said. “For this reason, schools need to close temporarily now to nip the problem at the bud instead of exacerbating it. The longer the city waits to take action, the longer schools will have to stay closed when they are inevitably forced to switch to remote learning.”
Another post cited safety concerns over children aged 4 years and under who are not authorized to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which leaves them “completely unprotected” while children 15 and under can’t get a booster vaccine, which “makes them more susceptible to the virus.”
Omicron is now the dominant variant in the U.S. and evidence suggests that the new strain is less severe than previous iterations of COVID-19. Many democrats and public health officials have argued that mild symptoms and mitigation efforts should allow students to remain in the classroom.
Fauci admitted that many children hospitalized with COVID-19 are there for other reasons, but test positive upon being admitted. He stressed the importance of in-person learning for kids who can benefit from “test-to-stay” policies and the availability of the vaccine.
“I think all those things put together, it’s safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out,” he said Sunday.
Members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) oppositional caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in NYC protested on Tuesday night, calling for “KN95s for ALL, Covid Testing for All [1,094,138 students in the NYC school system], A temp. remote option, 10 day quarantines, Better ventilation, Smaller class sizes.”
The “NYC Student Walkout for COVID Safety” group also promoted a MORE petition which echoed many of the same demands like increased testing, remote learning and more testing and vaccines.
“We demand the United Federation of Teachers, our teachers union, advocate for its members rather than wait for the next Mayoral administration to fight for school safety and protections for students, staff, and our community,” the petition concluded.
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