Hundreds of teachers have signed an online petition saying they won't work Thursday because of SFUSD’s alleged COVID safety failings, but can you really have a sickout when more than 10% of the staff is already legitimately out sick?
We had heard rumblings early on Wednesday that there was some sort of San Francisco teacher labor action brewing, as Bay City News reported United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) was “holding a briefing at noon Wednesday to discuss the issues related to the COVID surge.” It may or may not be that particular labor action, but the Chronicle is reporting that SFUSD teachers are planning a mass “sickout” for Thursday, January 6, to protest the lack of available testing and precautions they see as inadequate.
The paper notes that the sickout is “not organized by the teachers’ union.”
According to an online petition from the unnamed teachers, “By withholding our labor, by reclaiming our time and our health, we send the message that if SFUSD, the City, State, and Federal Government do not invest in seriously addressing this pandemic (and the ongoing issues which make dealing with the pandemic so challenging for public schools), we can shut the whole system down. And we will!”
The school district, predictably, is irked by this display. “SFUSD continues to follow public health guidance and schools have remained low-risk settings by following proper safety protocols,” Dr. Matthews said in a statement. “In-person learning offers the best form of instruction for our students, and even as the pandemic continues, we believe school remains a safer place for our students considering the harmful effects of social isolation and learning loss.”
But can this sickout make any difference if so many teachers are already out sick? Consider that on Tuesday, Chronicle reported 406 out of roughly 3,600 teachers (11.2%) were out sick, and even more were today. Would a sickout even register with so many teachers already out?
It’s unclear if any teachers participating in this unsanctioned sickout aren’t already, you know, out sick.
Image: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose via Wikimedia Commons