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Too cool for school

Hundreds of students walk out of schools over Omicron concerns

Hundreds of students in Boston, Chicago, and other U.S. school districts staged walkouts Friday, demanding increased health precautions or a return to remote instruction as Omicron cases continue to spike, Reuters reported.

This news comes after a week of abnormally low attendance rates in districts across the country.

"It was like: 'This person has COVID. That person has COVID. Another person has COVID,'" Zoe Cantor, one of the students organizing a walkout in Montgomery County, Maryland, told The Washington Post.

"Amid the recent surge of COVID cases in the country, specifically the omicron variant, it is unsafe to hold students in schools that do not mandate any social distancing and allow masks to be taken off," Cantor wrote in a Change.org petition currently signed by almost 18,000 people.

Many of the protesting students argue schools need to do more facilitate social distancing and provide students with COVID tests and high-quality masks. Others insist that in-person learning should be suspended altogether.

Some educators, however, remain skeptical, suggesting that many of the students signing petitions and participating in walkouts are motivated by nothing more than the desire to stay home from school. Megan Struder, who teaches English in Stafford County, Virginia, told The Week Wednesday that a number of students "are looking to take advantage of the virtual setting," which "complicates things for those who are truly in need."

According to data provided by The New York Times, Omicron continues to produce record numbers of new cases but without a proportionate rise in deaths.