Teachers are seeing a rise in COVID-19-related cases. School officials from Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina announced this week that they will temporarily close schools or move to remote learning as a result of worsening teacher shortages.
In Indiana, at least four Marion County school districts have shifted to remote learning this week, including Indianapolis Public Schools, said Wednesday the decision “has been made based on the number of staff absences, including COVID-19 isolation and quarantines at the middle and high school levels.”
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that state employees can use the allotted days of volunteer time to substitute for paid teachers. Roy Cooper declared Wednesday. Due to an increase in COVID-19-infected staff, Nevada schools were closed for part of Wednesday.
ABC News reported that Maryland’s biggest school district requested the National Guard to take over for its bus drivers, after staffing shortages caused cancellations on 40 to 80 routes.
Meanwhile, students nationwide are staging walkouts this week to demand a voice in ongoing battles over in-person and remote learning.
Samantha Farrow (16 years old) is a student activist at Stuyvesant high school and organized a walkout. She said that many New York City schools were left “pretty desolate”, with empty classrooms and countless teachers missing.
Farrow stated that most of Farrow’s teachers have missed this week due to illness or exposure. Due to staffing shortages, most days have been “non-instructional days” spent reading on her own or scrolling through her phone.
She stated, “It just doesn’t seem like we are making a good time with our limited resources.”
In a reversal from his pledge to keep students in schools, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday he is also considering a return to remote learning as student attendance also falters amid spikes in COVID-19 cases.
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►As some experts say the current COVID-19 wave may be peaking, new coronavirus cases ticked down slightly for the second time this week. USA had 5.51 Million cases during the week that ended on Thursday. That’s down from the 5.53 Million reported in Wednesday’s week, according to USA TODAY analysis by Johns Hopkins University.
►President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the government will double to 1 billion the rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests to be distributed free to Americans.
►U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office apologized Friday to the royal family for holding a late-night staff party the day before Queen Elizabeth II sat alone and mourned her late Prince Philip in a socially distanced funeral service due to the country’s COVID-19 rules.
►More than half a million people in Israel have received a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the country’s health ministry said Friday.
►Cruise lines will no longer be obliged to follow COVID-19 guidance on ships as the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which was extended and modified in October, will expire Saturday.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 63.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 846,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 319 million cases and nearly 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.8% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘This is what we are readingIs this the end of the COVID explosion? For clues, scientists search your sewage.
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Novak Djokovic could be deported again following a second revoked visa by the Australian government
Novak Djokovic, tennis star, is being deported again by the Australian government after his second visa was revoked.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open is to begin. Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancelation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancellation.
Djokovic was in Melbourne to defend his Australian Open title. Tennis Australia, tournament organizer and Victoria state government granted Djokovic exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements. This apparently enabled him to obtain a visa for travel.
However, the Australian Border Force refused to grant the exemption and voided Djokovic’s visa when he arrived in Melbourne. Djokovic was held in immigration detention for four nights before being overturned by a judge Monday.
— The Associated Press
Center for COVID Control will ‘pause’ nationwide testing sites
A coronavirus testing company under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and which has drawn criticism from customers in several states announced Thursday a “one-week pause on all operations.”
The pause was expected to take effect Friday through Jan. 21 at all Center for COVID Control testing sites. According to the website of the Illinois-based company, it boasts more than 300 sites in several U.S. states. Washington and Massachusetts took this week’s action to close down testing facilities at the company in their respective communities.
USA TODAY obtained an internal memo from the Center for COVID Control addressed to all location managers and owners. It stated that there had been “increased media scrutiny” of the operation at our collection sites over the last week. According to the company, it handles 80,000 requests for testing every day.
The notice stated that “This was combined with numerous customer complaints resulted in several state health departments and even the Department of Justice taking an keen interest in our business.”
— Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
Supreme Court repeals COVID-19 mandate to test vaccines in workplaces
The Supreme Court on Thursday halted enforcement of one of President Joe Biden’s signature efforts to combat COVID-19, ruling that his administration doesn’t have the authority to impose vaccine-or-testing requirements on employers that would have covered tens of millions of Americans.
The unsigned opinion, which came days after the justices heard arguments in the emergency appeal, marked the second time the nation’s highest court unwound a pandemic policy of the Biden administration, again concluding that federal officials exceeded the power given to them by Congress. The court blocked Biden’s eviction moratorium in August, ruling that it also was an overreach.
At issue in the workplace case was whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had the power to impose the requirements under a 1970 law.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, options the Biden administration has to respond to the ruling. President Biden stated in a statement that he was disappointed and “now it is up to individual states and employers whether or not to make workplaces safe.” Find out more about Biden’s next campaign for vaccines.
— John Fritze, USA TODAY
Celina Tebor from USA TODAY and The Associated Press contributed.