The Rise of Omicron and the Peak of COVID


Temi Lufadeju, Staff Reporter

          The 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. Omicron. Omicron is a variant of coronavirus. As of December 21st, 2021, omicron was detected first in South Africa and has since been detected in more than 70 countries and at least 35 states. The variant currently spreads more easily than the earliest virus that causes COVID-19 and the Delta variant. According to the CDC, “Anyone with the Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”

           Delaware Public Health District commissioner, Sheila Hiddleson, said, “Everyone should expect at this time that if they are out and about, they are going to come across somebody who has COVID, and they should expect they are getting exposed.” Unfortunately, school is one of those places where you should expect to come into contact with someone who has or had both COVID-19 and the variant omicron. Southern Elementary School in New Castle County Delaware had to go virtual due to the lack of teachers. Jeffory Gibeault, the elementary school’s principal has had to cover 25 classes as of January 19th, 2022 because teachers were out coping with COVID-19. Delaware LIVE said, “Schools are turning to paraprofessionals, administrators, tutors, student teachers, and central office workers such as instructional coaches to lead classes.”

           Where does that leave us? In Delaware, teachers have made it clear that they want to return to virtual classes, but others have set their sights on having asynchronous days for the kids and teachers to take a break. To some extent, parents have made it clear that their children should be in the best environment to lear, that being school. However, some schools have needed to take safety precautions in going virtual. William Penn High School in New Castle County Delaware was virtual for a week because of the shortage of teachers and substitutes. “That’s a last-resort situation and the principals and staff are working hard to try to figure out how we put this puzzle together every day because every day it’s a little bit different dynamic,” said Pete Leida, Deputy Superintendent of the Colonial School District. Although cases continue to climb, the risk of closing down schools is as Pete Ledia said “a last-resort situation.” This “last-resort” situation holds ripple effects to the caregivers and guardians of the world who would be taking time off from work to be at home. That does not even include the effect it has on children from learning loss and social isolation A.I. duPont High School, just nine minutes away from Wilmington Friends, gave students the option to stay home. This was due to the lack of teachers and the large number of students who were exposed to the deadly viruses. John Carney, the governor of Delaware since 2017, has been cognizant of what is going on with each district and each school. Carney said, “It’s a difficult one because each district and each school in the district is situated a little bit differently. The one consistent thing is that every district is different. And so it makes it a little bit harder for us.” Lilly Hebert ‘26 said, “During my time online due to receiving the variant, it was tough to keep up not being in school. Although I was fortunate enough to be able to zoom in online.” Nora Hughes ‘26, a first-year student at Friends, said, “I had omicron the week before Christmas but the effects of the variant were nothing but a cold.” Carney mentioned that the state of Delaware had asked retired teachers to consider returning to classrooms as substitutes. Carney mostly stated that “The state is focusing on bringing the surge down so regular staff can return.” The state’s measures include distributing KN95 masks for teachers, staff, and students in sixth grade and higher. As of January 25, 2022, the impact of COVID-19’s omicron variant is dropping even faster than it is increasing in Delaware, but the threat is still not gone yet.