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The Upcoming Sick Out

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Teachers are likely to solve this ridiculous attempt to have in-person classes very quickly by building on their strikes over the last couple of years and having a sick-out.

An Arizona public school district was forced to cancel its plans to reopen on Monday after more than 100 teachers and other staff members called in sick.

“We have received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students,” Gregory Wyman, district superintendent, said in a statement on Friday.

Now some activists in Arizona, which saw a high-profile teachers’ strike in 2018, said they hope teachers across America will adopt a similar strategy to keep educators safe, as some parents and politicians continue to push for schools in the US to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’d love to see a nationwide sickout,” Kelley Fisher, an Arizona kindergarten teacher who has led protests in the state, told Reuters on Friday.

In San Tan Valley, a suburb of Phoenix, the JO Combs unified school district’s board of governors had voted to resume in-person classes on Monday. Another school district nearby had made a similar choice, pressured by some parents who argued that reopening schools would be best for their children.

The president of the Arizona Education Association, a teacher’s union, told the Arizona Republic that the two districts both decided to reopen despite not meeting the health metrics as recommended by Arizona’s department of public health.

It’s an absolute tragedy that this nation could not get it together with five months lead-time to control this virus enough to have in-person courses this fall. It’s terrible for students and for parents. It will have long-term consequences on children’s education. And I am sympathetic to administrators here as well. But given that the nation is unwilling to fight the virus effectively and instead is engaging in magical thinking that you can throw a bunch of kids together day after day without the virus spreading, it’s going to be up to teachers to solve the problem through collective action. It very much builds on the community unionism that was so powerful in the 2018 and 2019 strikes that was very much about the kids and the school systems themselves as they were about anything material for the teachers. Striking to keep kids safe is about as good a reason to do as any I can think of. And it will also work.

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