Over 300 Livingston Parish teachers didn't report to work on day of planned 'sick out' protest
DENHAM SPRINGS – There were no white boards, desks or computers in sight for many teachers in Livingston Parish who decided not to go into their classrooms Wednesday.
Of the 1,590 teachers in Livingston Parish, over 300 did not report to work on Wednesday, Sept. 23, the day of the planned "sick out" protest.
“We’re not here today away from the campus because we’re selfish, we’re here today away from campus so that we can come up with something to solve this problem,” said Jessica Cobb, a second grade teacher at North Live Oak Elementary.
Many union and non-union teachers in Livingston Parish called out sick or took a personal day Wednesday in protest of the Livingston Parish Public School System’s reopening procedures and virtual learning model amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are spending seven hours a day in the classroom with our at-school students, and the time in the afternoon that is left we’re expected to work with the virtual students so the quality of instruction is just not there,” Cobb said.
Their absence from school is a message to the school board to take them seriously. They want a new virtual learning plan, and they want a committee made up of teachers to come up with that plan.
The school system says 85-100 of the over 300 teachers who did not show up for work did not find substitutes to fill in for them Wednesday.
During a press conference Tuesday, Superintendent Joe Murphy said his administration is committed to finding solutions. The district created a Strong Start Committee in the summer, and they recently added 10 teachers to that committee.
The Livingston Federation of Teachers would like to see one teacher from every school involved, though. An idea they have is to delegate a certified teacher to only focus on virtual students, instead of teachers having to do both right now.
“It’s a struggle for the children. The ones that are at home trying to be virtual learners are not getting the quality of instruction that our parish is known for,” Cobb said.
The teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday. They said the decision to call in was a hard one.
“We decided to come together today to stand up for the kids, and we want the parents to know we didn’t leave our students at school today easily. We all fought last night with ourselves, 'do I do this, do I not do this?' And we decided in the end that if we’re going to make a change we have to be seen, we have to be heard,” Cobb said.
The union is reporting that over 300 teachers did not report to work on the day of the planned protest, but most, over 200, were able to find a substitute. Teachers who were able to find a fill in were not included in the school system's 85-100 count of teachers that did not show up for work Wednesday as they were considered to be "protesting."
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