HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Almost two years after the first classroom disruptions took hold in north Alabama, the newest COVID-19 challenge, the Omicron variant, emerged in schools to start off the spring 2022 semester.

Dr. Karen Landers with ADPH’s Northern District says school districts now have to be extra cautious, especially with not as many beginning the semester with mask requirements.

“We have more pediatric patients in the hospital now than we have had in our previous surges,” Landers says. “We absolutely need schoolwide masking. This is vital. This is really critical at this point.”

With the rise in cases, some schools are sending students back home for virtual learning.
Wednesday, Russellville City Schools and Muscle Shoals City Schools announced students will learn remotely effective Thursday and Friday, respectively, citing severe shortages of faculty and student absences due to cases.

Landers says it’s more common for the coronavirus to first spread from the household to the classroom, then having an effect on teachers.

“We want to keep kids in school. We want to keep kids there in the classroom learning. But again, these numbers not only are affecting the pediatric population but also having enough teachers and staff to be able to keep schools open. Again I go back to the layered mitigation strategy (needed), and if your child’s not vaccinated get started on that vaccine,” Landers added.