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Utah teachers call out sick from work to go get tested for COVID-19

Posted at 4:55 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 12:57:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah teachers angry with the lack of COVID-19 safety measures in schools, participated in a teacher ‘test out’ thursday.

Teachers from all over Utah planned to call in sick, in order to get tested for covid-19. This effort is to not only be safe around students but to also send a message to school districts and the state.

Read: Some Utah teachers to take sick leave Thursday to demand better COVID-19 protocols and get tested

"Teaching is already a stressful job and this has added so much stress on teachers,” said Lindsay Plummer, a teacher in the Granite School District.

Read: ‘This has been a really hard year’: Jordan Education Association President talks COVID-19

She says the “test out” was all about taking a stand and asking for more safety protocols to be put in schools.

"We’re really upset that you know we’re being told that we need to stay in our household, but then it’s OK to be in a school building with hundreds of people,” said Plummer.

While it’s hard to say just how many teachers were participating in the test out, Lindsey says she knows other teachers stand with her today.

"Technically speaking, it’s a violation of the agreement and so I don’t think teachers wanted to make it known if they were going to participate,” said Ben Horsley with Granite School District.

We checked with several school districts on their teacher absentee numbers, Granite School District says they had two dozen more teachers out sick Thursday than normal, while the Canyons and Jordan School Districts says there were no more call outs than normal.

"We had half a dozen or so teachers reach out to the district and say, hey if you need me in another location, I’m happy to move and go help support our students and make sure that every kid has a warm safe place to be with a caring teacher,” said Horsley.

Horsley says while the Granite School District is doing all it can to keep everyone safe, school isn’t the problem. The district’s data shows less than 2 percent of cases impacting the district are happening on school property.

"The Governor’s order is directed at the heart of the problem, the school is not the problem, at home social and family circumstances are the issue, where we’re seeing the greatest amount of transmission of COVID,” said Horsley.

Read: Herbert announces mask mandate, social gathering limits, hold on extracurricular activities

While teachers argue more transmission is happening in schools due to asymptomatic carriers, Plummer says today’s test out is about encouraging more people to get tested and fighting for change.

"We want our students to be safe, we want their families to be safe, we want our teachers to be safe and this is a community effort,” said Plummer.