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Bay Area authorities brace for Omicron surge

The official seal of the City of Hayward.
Hayward Public Library
Flickr / Creative Commons
The official seal of the City of Hayward.

Hayward Unified, which enrolls about 22,000 students, announced Friday it would hold classes online Monday through Friday due to the surging omicron variant.

Students will work independently on assignments they had already received, and the district distributed Chromebooks to students Monday. From Tuesday through Friday, they will have schedules similar to the previous week, with both live and asynchronous instruction.

The district will host some "learning hubs" at schools where limited numbers of students can get access the internet. The district will also provide "grab-and-go" meals each day.In Palo Alto, Superintendent Don Austin on Sunday sent out an all-points bulletin, pleading with them to volunteer in schools to keep them open.

By 9 a.m. Monday, Austin said 360 parents responded. Jobs include support for Covid testing, signing in students at lunch, recess duty, light custodial duties, work in the office preparing materials and classroom support.

As in other districts, Palo Alto has been hit hard with teacher and staff shortages.

In Sonoma County, Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase on Monday issued an appeal for community members to stay at home voluntarily for the next month. The order comes in response to the increasing transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county. Residents are being cautioned to only leave their house for necessary trips like work or school and grocery shopping.

The county's positive testing rate reached an all-time high of 16-and-a-half percent this week, and case rates rose from 24.4 per 100,000 residents per day to more than 121 per 100,000 residents per day in the past two weeks.