In A Flash
Louisiana teachers union stages sickout, demands classes go virtual
In this file photo from July 22, teachers in East Baton Rouge protest their system’s planned reopening of schools — an example of one of the many factors experts say have driven the current teacher shortage in Louisiana and across the country. (Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator)
Teachers in the East Baton Rouge branch of the Louisiana Association of Educators announced a planned “sickout” Wednesday to protest the school system’s response to the recent COVID-19 surge and teacher shortages this semester.
“Our staff is experiencing burnout, and our students are not getting the education they need and deserve with all of these different stops and starts,” Valencea Johnson, president of the East Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
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Johnson said the union is demanding East Baton Rouge schools implement virtual learning for all students, extend isolation time for students who test positive for COVID-19 from five to 10 days, and that schools allow telework for all staff with the ability to do so.
“We want our children to be safe, and we need this to last until COVID is significantly reduced in East Baton Rouge Parish,” Johnson said.
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Teachers should return to work only when East Baton Parish reports a 10% COVID-19 positivity rate, Johnson said. The parish most recently reported a 28% COVID-19 positivity rate.
Several elementary and high schools in Baton Rouge have already moved to virtual learning following reported COVID-19 outbreaks.
The teachers’ sickout comes as Louisiana faces another COVID-19 surge from the fast-spreading omicron variant. The state set a new single-day record with 14,077 new COVID-19 cases last week, and health officials reported more than 12,000 cases Tuesday.
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