Archdiocesan schools face challenges of omicron variant

BRAINTREE -- Almost two years have passed since the coronavirus prompted the closure of schools. Now, while the archdiocesan schools remain open and committed to in-person instruction, the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing considerable challenges for the schools in matters of staffing and safety measures.

Speaking to The Pilot on Jan. 11, Archdiocesan Superintendent Thomas Carroll said that these are "very trying times for everyone who works in Catholic schools." He applauded the teachers' "incredible commitment" and said he thinks people should be appreciative of them taking care of children even as coronavirus cases increase.

"I think they should be considered by the public as frontline responders," he said.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus is more contagious than any variant preceding it. However, Carroll noted, while the number of cases among students and staff is "dramatically higher," most seem to pick up the virus outside of school, and transmission within the schools remains low.

If a student or faculty member tests positive for the coronavirus, they have to quarantine for a minimum of five days. This can cause difficulties if too many of a school's faculty members are unable to teach. While the numbers of cases in individual schools vary widely, Carroll said there have been a few instances in which a quarter of the students and staff were out sick.