Roundup: COVID-19 variants / BRCC vice chancellor / Reopening schools

    Case counts: New, highly contagious variants of the coronavirus are a “threat” to the U.S. and could reverse the recent drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this morning, CNBC reports. The U.S. reported a seven-day average of 119,900 new virus cases a day last week, down nearly 20% from the prior week but still “dramatically higher” than the peak seen during the summer, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House news briefing. Read the full story. 

    Workforce policy: Baton Rouge Community College Vice Chancellor for Workforce Solutions Girard Melancon has been appointed by the National Skills Coalition and Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships to a national panel that will influence federal recovery policies for the Biden Administration and new Congress in the coming months, BRCC announced today. Between March and July, Melancon will join other business leaders, labor leaders, college leaders and industry training providers to shape policies and ensure they include investments in workforce training and support. 

    Continued delays: After seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year. President Joe Biden has made reopening schools a top priority, but administrators say there is much to consider as new strains of the coronavirus appear and teachers wait their turn for vaccinations. And while many parents are demanding that schools fully reopen, others say they won’t feel safe sending children back to classrooms until vaccines are available to even young students. Read the full story.