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EBR teachers plan sick-out Wednesday over 'rampant' COVID cases in schools

2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago Tuesday, January 11 2022 Jan 11, 2022 January 11, 2022 7:26 AM January 11, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A group of teachers in East Baton Rouge plan to skip classes Wednesday in protest of current COVID protocols at the parish's public schools. 

"This is the only way that we can have consistent education right now," Valencea Johnson, president of the East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators, said. "Because of COVID, we have to do things differently. We just can't say, 'well, oh well, we're going to send them in the building.' We can no longer do that."

EBRPAE held a news conference Tuesday afternoon and sent a list of demands and potential solutions to EBR Superintendent Sito Narcisse.

Narcisse told WBRZ that it's unclear exactly how many teachers will be out on Wednesday but that classes will go on as planned.

"The only way that I would change to remote learning, at this point in time, for a particular school, is if the staff is impacted," Narcisse said, shutting down the idea of district-wide change. 

Other certified faculty are expected to be on campus to help fill any holes in staffing.

"We're gonna have all certified staff that we have available go into schools," Narcisse said. "I mean, we have coaches. Coaches are going to be going into schools. We have counselors, counselors who are supporting kids in other ways. We're gonna have them go into classes to support."

The group said the sick-out planned for Wednesday is in response to "startling" increases in COVID cases at schools across the state. 

"We know that the best place is in the classroom," Johnson said. "However, the best place is not in the classroom right now, with a surge in COVID."

Other local educator groups are not on board with the Wednesday's planned walk out. The East Baton Rouge chapter of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana and the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers are not endorsing the move. 

The Federation says not working Wednesday won't provide the solutions to quell virus concerns.

"The superintendent has already stated he is not going totally virtual," Angela Reams-Brown, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, said. "So what happens on Thursday? What happens on Friday? What happens on Monday? Staying home one day will not solve the problem."

Read the full announcement from the union below.

"The East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators with the support of the Louisiana Association of Educators will host a press conference this afternoon, Tuesday, January 11,
2022, at 4:30 pm, at the Louisiana Association of Educator’s headquarters building. The purpose of the event is to discuss a list of demands and solutions to the rampant COVID-cases and staff shortages in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district. A letter was sent to Superintendent Narcisse outlining the requests, and educators have organized a sick-out on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, to show their commitment to the health and safety of students and staff as COVID-19 cases have shown startling increases and personnel shortages are happening across the state.

President of the EBRPAE, Valencea Johnson, said that the time is now to protect students and educators, and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in East Baton Rouge Parish schools. Johnson will also be the speaker for this afternoon’s press conference, where she will cover the demands many educators are advocating for and provide further details regarding tomorrow’s sick-out. Over 350 educators are prepared to participate in the day of action, to put pressure on Superintendent Sito Narcisse to convert to virtual learning in the district until cases go down significantly. EBRPAE and LAE sent a letter to Superintendent Narcisse, outlining their concerns on Monday afternoon."

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