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Livingston schools chief doesn't plan to close schools amid teacher 'sick out' Wednesday

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LIVINGSTON – Since schools reopened last month, Livingston Parish teachers have spoken out about their concerns with the district’s reopening procedures and virtual learning model. Teachers are taking action to bring awareness to these ongoing issues, Livingston Federation of Teachers spokesperson Heather Cushman announced Monday evening.

At a news conference Tuesday, the school system superintendent said there will be no school closures related to the absence of teachers. 

Teachers have planned a "sick out" as "a day of action," which means they will not show up to work on Wednesday, Sept. 23, according to a news release from Livingston Federation of Teachers.

"Teachers have raised these concerns with the superintendent, multiple administrators and the school board itself, but this district has not taken action to correct these problems. Therefore, teachers have planned a day of action, wherein they will not attend school on Wednesday, September 23rd."

“Making the decision to leave my students, even for just one day, is an incredibly difficult choice,” Tamara Cupit said, Livingston Federation of Teachers President. “But ultimately, this is something we need to do for them not only this year, but for years to come. To protect their health and safety, and ensure that each of our students get a top-quality education, whether they’re learning in person or on a computer.”

“We’ve been trying to tell the School Board for weeks that this system isn’t working, but our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. We felt like there was no other option, but to take a day to protest the Board’s inaction,” said Jessica Colbenson, Livingston Federation of Teachers Executive Board Member.

Teachers are asking the administration to create a Superintendent’s Advisory Council, composed of one teacher from each school, elected by the teachers at that school. The advisory council would meet with the Superintendent and the School Board at least once a month, and shall first work to address the outstanding issues related to reopening schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heavy burden that virtual learning has placed on teachers, students, and parents.

The goal of the council is to later meet to address teacher concerns, school improvement strategies, curriculum decisions, professional development selection, and anything else that is pertinent to the educational experience of students, the teachers union stated in the release.

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