Battered by Omicron Surge, Schools and Youth Confront a Future with COVID

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Students check in with school officials before entry to Olive Vista Middle School on the first day back following the winter break amid a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases across Los Angeles County on January 11, 2022 in Sylmar, California. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The fast-spreading omicron variant has snarled schools and made this return from the holidays particularly difficult. As record numbers of California children have tested positive for COVID and even been hospitalized, many students and teachers are reluctant to return to the classroom, especially without adequate protection and safety protocols. We’ll check in with an Oakland student organizer about a petition that’s gained over a thousand signatures to boycott classes until demands over safety are met. And, as omicron looks to be nearing its peak, we talk with experts about what to expect in the next few weeks, and what lies beyond. Given all we know now, given how tired we all are, what would count as “winning” when the next surge hits?


Ximena Santana, student organizer, MetWest High School

Dr. Celine Gounder, internist and infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist; host and producer of the podcasts "American Diagnosis" and "Epidemic," which focus on the coronavirus pandemic

Lee Atkinson-McEvoy, clinical professor of pediatrics, UCSF Benioff Children¹s Hospital, San Francisco