The word of the week is also a Greek letter: “omicron.” As soon as South African authorities shared news of the new COVID-19 variant, many governments imposed travel bans in an effort to contain its spread.

That kind of restriction is a seemingly simple prevention measure. But the science and ethics involved are anything but, write two bioethicists – Nancy Jecker at the University of Washington and Caesar Atuire at the University of Ghana. Some people argue a travel ban can at least buy time as scientists get more answers about the variant’s risks. Yet travel restrictions raise tough questions when vaccination access varies dramatically across the globe.

This week we also liked articles about the “deluge” of plastic waste in oceans, presidential Hanukkah celebrations and the tragic increase in school shootings.

Molly Jackson

Religion and Ethics Editor

People wait at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa on Nov. 26, 2021, as many nations moved to stop air travel from the country. AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Who’s in? Who’s out? The ethics of COVID-19 travel rules

Nancy S. Jecker, University of Washington; Caesar Atuire, University of Ghana

Should countries require COVID-19 vaccination for entry while vaccines remain globally scarce?

So far, there have been 222 school shootings in 2021. Scott Olson/Getty Images

School shootings are at a record high this year – but they can be prevented

James Densley, Metropolitan State University ; Jillian Peterson, Hamline University

School shootings are typically preceded by a series of warning signs. Are educators, police and policymakers paying enough attention?

The lighting of the National Menorah in Washington, D.C. in 2012. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Biden brings a menorah lighting back to the White House, rededicating a Hanukkah tradition from the 20th century

Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

Every president since Jimmy Carter has recognized Hanukkah with a special menorah lighting ceremony.