SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Some San Francisco teachers are fed up with the school district saying they didn’t prepare for the expected surge the city is experiencing right now with omicron cases.
So on Thursday, teachers in the union held a sickout demanding safer work conditions.
This is on top of the over 600 San Francisco teachers who actually called out sick on Wednesday due to symptoms or exposure to the virus.
Somehow, the district kept schools open.
The teachers want the district to provide daily disposable KN95 or N95 masks for all staff who are part of the unions.
They also want access to free weekly testing for all staff and all students should be arranged, with free rapid testing available at all SFUSD sites and central offices — including the continuation of 10-day paid sick leave for staff due to COVID and COVID vaccination-related illness.
Rori Abernethy, a middle school math teacher, described her experience after returning from winter break Monday to teach at James Denman Middle School. She is one of the teachers participating in the sickout.
“I have got one class with 34 kids. One class with 26 kids. There is no social distancing at all. Then I am walking around the room squeezing between the chairs. I also want to add that it’s been freezing because all of the windows are open,” Abernethy said.
The superintendent has responded saying they operate one of the largest COVID testing sites in the city and encouraged all to get tested after winter break.
This week, the superintendent claims they are making rapid testing available at several schools and the district headquarters with tests shipped to them by the state.
Masks will be handed out this week and next.
Teachers in the union are not advised to gather in front of the district office on Franklin Street, but rather call out in solidarity.
The union hopes this sends a message to not only the district but the city and state as well.
On Thursday, the school district negotiated with a team of representatives to discuss health and safety in schools.
It was later announced that no agreement had been reached after negotiating for several hours.
The Unions of United Educators of San Francisco said that their demands were straightforward and the school district voiced their concerns about the costs of providing sick leave to staff.
“Hundreds of educators and staff are out sick due to this highly contagious variant, and this health and safety agreement is crucial in combating the spread, keeping everyone safe and our schools operating. Taking days to run numbers on a sick leave you have been offering to staff for the last year is unacceptable. We expect the District and
“We are incredibly disappointed that the management of SFUSD didn’t come to the table better prepared to reach agreements that keep our students, staff, and schools safe and to finalize this agreement today,” said Rafael Picazo SEIU-1021 SFUSD Chapter President. “Omicron is spreading so rapidly through the school system we can’t keep classrooms staffed properly or keep people safe, especially when this new variant is proving to impact our students more so than other variants. The very least the school district could do is continue negotiating and come together to do what we know needs to be done to keep our staff and students safe: masking, testing, and staying home when ill.”