Omicron fears fuel big attendance drop at Leon County Schools
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Attendance is down about 10%-15% across the Leon County school district as families keep their children home because of fears over the COVID-19 omicron variant, according to Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
Hanna says since the district returned from winter break last week, attendance has been at 82%-83%. That compares to a usual rate of 95%-96%. It’s even worse in some Title 1 schools, where attendance is in the 60% range, according to the superintendent.
“Families in our Title 1 schools are just very afraid of COVID no matter what variant it is and they’re keeping their kids at home in an abundance of caution, and that’s going to have a direct impact on their learning,” Hanna says.
He calls the COVID numbers among students during the new semester “off the chain.”
“Just about every day we’re exceeding triple digits,” he says.
The good news, according to Hanna, is symptoms from omicron are not nearly as severe as with the delta variant.
That’s why, despite the high number of cases, the superintendent is urging parents to send their children to school if they are not experiencing symptoms.
“We’ve been very understanding with parents and families. We’ve given compassion and grace and flexibility. But the bottom line is kids can’t learn if they’re not in school… We have to get our kids in school,” Hanna says.
The superintendent says he’s prepared to adjust policies, and take on the state‘s prohibition of mask mandates, should another wave of serious illness hit the district.
“If we see a variant come through that’s sending our kids to the hospital... I’m prepared to go right back and challenge the rule, challenge the law,” Hanna says.
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