CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A group of teachers in the Chandler Unified School District is taking part in a sickout Friday to protest the governing board's decision to stick to in-person learning. One parent tells Arizona's Family 100 to 150 teachers are expected to participate.
"The CEA Executive Board has been made aware that a group of educators are planning to call out sick tomorrow," the Chandler Education Association Executive Board said Thursday in a statement responding to the plan. "While the CEA Executive Board has not promoted a sickout due to the many different views that our members have on this complex issue, we are not at all surprised that a number of our educators are angry enough to demonstrate their frustration in this manner."
The CEA Executive Board is asking for state leaders to provide a plan to put Arizonans first by implementing a statewide mask mandate and whatever other measures are needed to slow the spread of the virus.
"Our educators are exhausted and stretched to their breaking point. Other large districts in the East Valley have followed the course indicated by Maricopa County COVID data and shifted or committed to shift to virtual instruction while COVID cases continue to soar."
Until everyone can get a vaccine, CEA Executive Board says that it is are urging CUSD to:
- Adhere to the county metrics that were used to justify a full-time return to in-person instruction when making future decisions regarding the operation of our schools and facilities.
- Formally involve educators when making COVID-related decisions that impact our schools and our classrooms.
- Create a COVID task force comprised of educators, students, parents, community members, health professionals, and administrators.
Arizona's Family obtained a letter from staff to the board members and district officials, which calls on the district to move to virtual learning-only in January and only move back to in-person instruction when the original metrics show it's safe to return. The letter went out on Thursday.
District leaders voted on Wednesday night to stay with in-person learning five days per week with no hybrid model or virtual options. Teachers tell Arizona's Family they can't understand why the district isn't considering alternative options, especially with the number of COVID-19 cases so high. On Thursday, Arizona reported nearly 5,000 cases and 73 deaths.
Teachers tell Arizona's Family the Governing Board did offer students the ability to be virtual the two weeks after winter break but teachers say they aren't happy with that either because that means they'll have to teach in-person and on-camera simultaneously. So teachers plan do a sickout out on Friday.
"We encourage staff to report to work tomorrow (Friday) in the best interest of their students and colleagues. We understand this is a stressful time and invite teachers to work directly with administration as we seek ways to lessen any negative impact on them," a district spokesman said in an email to Arizona's Family.