Will it ever end? Biden says a ‘winter of death’ is coming, Fauci says wearing masks on planes will not go away, and businesses are going back to stricter work-from-home policies. “One medical expert suggests it’s ‘premature’ for U.S. colleges to be closing and announcing remote starts to the spring 2022 semester” reports Fox News.
Over the weekend, several colleges and universities announced decisions to shut down campuses due to growing fear over the latest omicron coronavirus variant. Thus far, the variant seems to be the least virulent and experts have called it a positive step towards being endemic, rather than a pandemic.
On Saturday, Harvard University said students will start the year off remotely for at least the first three weeks of January due to a “rapid rise” in coronavirus cases. “Other colleges such as Yale University and Penn State University haven’t announced a remote start to the spring 2022 semester but have told students t0 be prepared for a change if necessary” reports Fox News.
Fox News medical analyst and professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center said it’s “very premature” for colleges to discuss plans to shift to remote learning for the spring 2022 semester.
Universities are already a “built-in quarantine situation” which allows for rapid testing and any additional measures such as providing booster vaccinations. “Since it’s a university, if you look at it completely medically, it’s a built-in quarantine situation,” Dr. Siegel said.
“What do you got at a university? The ability to quarantine people, the ability to study a whole population, the ability to rapidly test everyone, the ability to make sure everybody is vaccinated.” Dr. Siegel said there’s “no proof” that sending students back home decreases the spread of the coronavirus.
“There’s no proof whatsoever that lockdowns have actually helped COVID and that sending college students home from school decreases the spread of COVID. What do you mean they’re home? What do you think they’re doing? What are they doing? They are probably spreading it within their household, within their zip code. I’m not convinced that closing schools decreases national spread of this virus. Where’s the proof of that?,” Dr. Siegel questioned.
As many speculate, Dr. Siegel also thinks motivations behind closings are not simply medical, or “science” related. “In other words, what motivates a university to close? It’s probably a liability, right? That’s not a medical issue,” Dr. Siegel said. “They’re thinking of if we get too many cases and somebody’s kid gets sick, and we get blamed for it. But I think that that’s the mindset, pretty much.”
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Freedom in the UK: Johnson ends ‘all Covid measures’ including mask wearing
The United Kingdom is enjoying a huge announcement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced “the end of all Covid measures introduced to combat the Omicron variant – compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, guidance to work from home and vaccine certificates – from next week” reports The Guardian.
For those with coronavirus, the legal requirement for them to self-isolate will also be allowed to lapse when the regulations expire on March 24. Johnson also announced an immediate end for students to wear masks at secondary schools.
“From tomorrow we will no longer require face masks in classrooms and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas,” Johnson told the Commons.
“In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
The Prime Minister said Covid data was “showing that time and again this government got the toughest decisions right” and that plan B rules that were put in place in December could all be lifted from next Thursday, the day after a pre-existing review point.
The Guardian notes Britain had expected Johnson would soon be ending work-from-home guidance and the mandate to show a certificate proving vaccination or proof of a recent negative Covid test. However, the immediate lifting of mandatory mask rules will “come as a surprise to some.”
Johnson is receiving some push back from some teaching and health unions. The general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said ministers would “regret sending the wrong signal to the public for political expediency”.
Joint general secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted said, “While the trend amongst secondary aged children is down, it is however uncertain, due to the short time schools have been back since the Christmas holidays, that this trend will continue. Such uncertainty could lead to a pronounced risk of increased disruption with children and staff having to isolate.”
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