The teachers union met with West Ada district officials Monday morning to discuss plans moving forward after 652 teachers called in sick. School was also canceled today for all grades in the West Ada School District today after 440 teachers called in sick. This includes all students who were participating in remote learning.
A statement from the West Ada Schooll district concerning the cancelation of today’s school day reads, “District Administration has been working with the West Ada Education Association to ensure that school can happen on Tuesday. Currently, we have 440 teachers who have called in sick for tomorrow. We are sadly unable to safely hold school tomorrow due to supervision concerns. This includes students who would have come in-person, all students enrolled in Virtual School House, and students who would have been learning remotely. We are continuing to work with the West Ada Education Association to find solutions to their concerns so we can hold school Wednesday.”
So what all started this planned “sick out”? West Ada School district voted to allow students to return to in-person classes on alternating days starting Monday, despite Ada County being in the “red” category, which means that the county has a high number of COVID-19 cases.
Multiple teachers at the meeting expressed concern that safety measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 were inadequate or would not be followed in an in-person learning setting.
The teachers union says that the board must be able to enforce physical distancing inside school buildings and teachers must be given more time to prepare proper instructions for when students are at home, either quarantined or having called out sick. The district responded by saying they have a plan to address those concerns.
“These West Ada teachers want to be in classrooms with their students but are unable to do so because of mismanagement of safety protocols and lack of transparency in reporting of COVID-19 cases by the district. They are unable to achieve proper physical distancing because of large class sizes and inadequate facilities,” said Layne McInelly, IEA President.
“The combination of mishandling of safety plans by the district and a failure by the state to provide adequate resources have left educators with no other recourse. We hope the district will include input from their educators, and from medical experts, as they plot a course that will get teachers and students back into classrooms—safely,” Mclnelly said.
Some parents are left scrambling to find child care or to take off of work. One parents frustration was offered in a written response to a Facebook post posted by the district, “Boy, I’m glad all those essential utility workers that supply water, gas…idk maybe some power had to figure out how to juggle parenting/teaching and a 40+ hour work week for the last 8 months just so all these “teachers” could fake a sick day in protest. Man, life is hard when your job REQUIRES you to show up. Don’t worry about it, though, guys….its only the youth of this state…that’s not important or anything. Come to think about it; we’re all just gonna stop showing up to work, too, since we’re in red and all.”
The district is still providing free meals are available to students from 10:50 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at many school locations.