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The Omicron Variant

Who would have thought that we would still be breaking records in 2022 with the number of Covid cases surging after everything we have endured over the past two years? In the current environment, why would most schools be remaining open? What is the difference between the coronavirus of the present and the coronavirus of 2020?

The Omicron variant is the difference. Although cases right now are 300% higher than 2020, many things have changed. The Omicron variant is a newly emerged strain of Coronavirus that is more contagious, but less deadly. According to the CDC, it now takes only 5 days for someone to be “contagious free,” whereas it was previously 14 days. 73% of people in Montgomery County are vaccinated with two doses and 20-30% nationally have received the third dose. This combination of facts has led to a decreased mortality rate despite an increase in Covid cases in 2022. Businesses and schools are still cautious of the virus, and some have reinstated rules that were revoked when cases declined.

Teachers have had to deal with keeping themselves and their families safe, while simultaneously being there for their students. It is understandable that some teachers don’t feel safe returning to work without appropriate safeguards. Teachers are in a difficult position, as they have had to trust the school districts to make the workplace safe while at the same time adapting to different teaching methods to fit remote and Covid-safe learning. Omicron, however, may be a turning point in the pandemic. What was once a deadly virus may now be similar to a cold, at least to the vaccinated?

Adding onto that, since the virus is less deadly and just more contagious, schools shouldn’t be shutting down. I know a lot of students, including me, would love to have a break and go virtual for a few days, but it is unreasonable for schools to shut down. Schools don’t usually shut down if kids have a cold and are out sick, even for the flu. With that being said, why would they shut down for Omicron, which is similar to a common cold? I think that, as we progress in research and become more educated, school boards and businesses will learn other ways to handle rising cases. In addition, in-person learning is very essential to kids, and it would be hard for students to go back to online learning after getting acclimated to a somewhat “normal” school year.

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