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Teacher sickouts continue at West Contra Costa Unified

After a sickout protest by nine teachers Tuesday at West Contra Costa Unified’s Korematsu Middle School, seven of Stege Elementary’s 12 teachers on staff called out sick Wednesday and Thursday, district officials said.

No permanent full-time teachers were on campus Wednesday or Thursday; Wednesday had previously been scheduled as only a partial day at Stege. In addition to the seven teachers who called in sick Wednesday and Thursday, the other six were either in quarantine or on leave for other reasons, district spokesman Ryan Phillips said. Stege teacher Hannah Geitner said the teachers who are in quarantine are also supporting and participating int he sick-out action.

Substitutes as well as administrative staff with teaching credentials have been filling in for the absent teachers. Of the 209 students enrolled at Stege, 68 attended Wednesday and 78 attended Thursday, Phillips said.

Phillips also said the Korematsu teachers who participated in the sickout Tuesday returned to school Wednesday.

Stege teachers are calling on the district to provide KN95 masks, rather than just surgical masks, for all students. Currently, the district has only committed to providing two KN95 masks a week to employees and surgical masks for students. The teachers are also calling for weekly required testing for students and a formal Covid-safety plan for the omicron variant from the district. The district is holding a special board meeting 5 p.m. Thursday to present its current Covid contingency plan.

The Stege teachers who participated in the action sent emails to their students’ parents letting them know they would be calling out sick and their reasoning behind it. Some of the parents participating in the effort as well and helped plan for it, and are filling out petitions in support of the teachers, said Stege teacher Sam Cleare.