US students stage walkout over offline classes as Omicron surge intensifiestext_fields
Chicago: Hundreds of students have staged peaceful demonstrations across the American cities of Boston and Chicago as they object to 'insufficient' Covid-19 protocols in schools as the US is gripped by thousands of cases of the new Omicron variant every day.
In Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district, the walkout came two days after in-classroom instruction resumed for 340,000 students who were idled during a five-day work stoppage by unionized teachers pressing for tougher COVID-19 safeguards. Over 600 students in Boston took to the streets in a similar protest.
A Boston senior school student's petition demanding a shift to online classes and terming schools as "Covid-19 breeding grounds" has gained traction amongst students, with over 8000 signatures as of Friday.
Students interviewed by Reuters said that they had hope that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district would listen to their concerns but that they did not expect much results. CPS and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently ended a deadlock with respect to schools reopening amidst the Covid surge, but students were not happy with the level of restrictions put in place, Reuters reported.
The Boston Student Advisory Council, which organized the walkout, posted a series of demands on Twitter, including two weeks of online instruction and more stringent COVID-19 testing for teachers and students.
"I live with two grandparents who are immune-compromised," he said. "So I don't want to go to school, risk getting sick and come home to them," said Ash O'Brien, a 10th-grade student at Boston Latin School, who participated in the walk-out on Friday.
The United States is clocking over 800,000 infections a day as Omicron tightens it's grips on the country. School closure tracking website Burbio claimed that schools in the country had closed at least one day a week since the surge hit. Although cases have fallen in parts of the country hit first, mixed responses from school and state administrations have left both parents and students in the lurch.
In Western states, by contrast, the average number of infections documented every day has climbed 89% in the past week compared with the previous week.