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School Closures Continue, Often Unrelated to COVID

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The school closures which became commonplace during the pandemic are continuing nationwide for reasons not directly related to COVID-19, including teacher burnout and general mental health, multiple outlets reported.

More than 20 school districts nationwide took off for mental health days around Thanksgiving, according to Karol Markowicz of the New York Post. Detroit schools closed every Friday in December due to rising COVID-19 cases and a need for a mental health break, according to Chalkbeat Detroit.

A school district in Utah moved to all-remote Fridays once a month through the end of April to give teachers more time to plan, and Virginia Beach schools plan to end the school day two hours early on seven different Wednesdays to deal with fatigued teachersaccording to WOWK 13 News.

Some of these closures came with little advance notice, leaving parents scrambling to find childcare and devices for their children to use to access online school, The New York Times reported. Reynolds Middle School in Portland, Oregon, canceled in-person classes from Nov. 18 to Dec. 7 and only gave parents two days’ notice, according to KGW 8, a local NBC affiliate.

A single mother told the NYT that during the Detroit school closures she struggled to find someone to watch her daughter during remote learning days, and needing to take time off suddenly to stay at home affected her career. Another mom described her straight-A son falling two grade levels behind in school during the pandemic.

Other parents are supportive of temporary school closures and remote days for students, according to Chalkbeat. These parents cite concerns about teachers being overworked as well as fear of a potential rise in COVID cases.

“I wish the state would be more lenient on funding, as what teachers and staff truly need is mental health Fridays, not trying to quickly set up and juggle virtual classes once per week,” parent Amber Hunt told Chalkbeat.

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