The San Francisco Unified School District continues to struggle with a teacher shortage, but on Thursday it faced a new challenge in the form of an online petition calling for a district-wide "sickout" over COVID safety concerns.
District officials reported 616 teacher absences on Thursday, with 29% of those spots covered by substitutes and the rest filled by other staff. On Wednesday, SFUSD reported 414 teacher absences.
Concerns over COVID are growing with the omicron variant driving a record surge in the city, but it is unclear how many of Thursday's sick calls were in protest and how many were caused by the coronavirus.
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High school health teacher Katrina Cubilo-Sicairos spent the day standing outside the district office and called for more substantial COVID testing, PPE and more.
"I do support the sickout today. I'm taking a personal leave day to show up and show the district there are certain things we need for schools to stay safe and stay open," Cubilo-Sicairos said.
The teachers union was not involved in the sickout, but said it is raising COVID concerns with the district.
Meanwhile, the district has said it continues to follow public health guidance and schools remain low risk settings with proper safety protocols and testing.