Covid explosion closing some schools, while others expose students to germs

The United States set a new world record after reporting over a million new COVID-19 cases, as infections were almost double that of the previous record set just days earlier.

The latest report marks the greatest daily increase for any country in the world since the beginning of the pandemic as another surge of Covid cases sweeps across the U.S.

President Joe Biden sought to alleviate concern about the omicron coronavirus variant, bu noting that COVID-19 vaccines have reduced the severity of illness from the infection.

Speaking before a briefing with his COVID-19 advisers at the White House, Biden said that the U.S. has the tools to protect Americans from a severe illness from the virus. He also advocated keeping schools open although cases are rising as some school districts choose to start the year with remote classes.

“Folks, I know we’re all tired and frustrated about the pandemic. These coming weeks are going to be challenging. Please wear your mask in public to protect yourself and others. We’re going to get through this,” Biden said. “We have the tools to protect people from severe illness due to omicron if people choose to use the tools.”

School districts around the country are heading in different directions, with some pushing to keep classrooms open next week when students return from winter breaks and others returning to virtual learning.

Gov. Phil Murphy ducked responsibility for protecting children’s safety and said there would be no statewide remote learning mandate although individual schools may choose to resume virtual classrooms.

At least 90 New Jersey school districts in at least 18 counties have announced plans to switch to virtual learning instead of returning students to classrooms as the state is bracing for a sharp rise in hospitalizations from the COVID-19 virus this winter as vaccine immunity appears to be waning.

Among those that have adopted virtual learning so far are:

Barrington, Bayonne, Berkeley Heights, Black Horse Pike Regional School District, Bloomfield, Boonton, Branchburg, Bridgeton, Bridgewater, Burlington City, Camden City, Camden County Technical School, Carteret, Chatham, Clayton, Clifton, Cranbury, Cranford, Cumberland Regional, Denville, East Brunswick, East Newark, East Orange, Eastern Camden County Regional, Elizabeth, Elmwood Park, Fairfield, Franklin Township, Gibbsboro, Glassboro, Glen Ridge, Gutenberg, Hackensack, Haddon Heights, Haddonfield, Haledon, Hamilton Township, Harding, Harrison, Hillsborough, Hillside, Hoboken, Hope, Hopewell Valley Regional, Hudson County Technical, Irvington, Jackson, Jersey City, Kearny, Lawrence Township, Lincoln Park, Lindenwold, Livingston, Lower Cape May Regional School District, Magnolia, Manchester Regional, Merchantville, Middlesex County Vocational Technical, Millburn, Monroe Township, Montclair, Montgomery, Mount Olive, Netcong, Newark, Newton, North Bergen, North Brunswick, North Plainfield, Northern Burlington County Regional, Orange, Passaic County Technical-Vocational, Paterson, Pennsauken, Piscataway, Plainfield, Rahway, Rockaway Township, Roselle, Salem County Vocational Technical, Secaucus, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South Orange-Maplewood, South Plainfield, Sterling Regional School District, Teaneck, Union City, Union Township, Weehawken, Westfield, and Winslow.

The U.S. reported over 1 million COVID-19 cases on Monday, driven up in part by backlogs over the New Year’s holiday. The U.S. is now averaging over 480,000 daily COVID-19 infections.

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