Tremper High School, Kenosha (Photo: Google Maps)
The Kenosha school district is transitioning to online learning at seven middle and high schools after 276 teachers reported absent Monday.
The absences started trickling in Sunday evening, forcing the district to announce the switch in a 10:30 p.m. Facebook post.
As of Sunday, the district was reporting 10 cases of the coronavirus among its students and staff.
Search and track: Coronavirus cases in Wisconsin schools
Asked if the absences were part of an organized demonstration against working conditions related to the pandemic, district spokesperson Tanya Ruder said, “That I don’t know at this time. We are having to do some research.”
Kenosha teachers do not have to supply a reason when calling in sick, Ruder said. Beyond the 276 teachers, non-faculty staff also reported absent for Monday, but Ruder did not have a number.
The Kenosha Education Association, the union for the district’s teachers, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.
In a Facebook post in August, the union said it opposed the district’s decision to offer optional in-person and virtual learning after having previously decided to begin the school year virtually.
“We want our schools to reopen, but only if it can be done safely and with the proper procedures in place,” the statement said. “Many of our school buildings and classrooms are still in desperate need of resources, repairs, and updates in order to meet a high standard of safety.”
Ruder said the teacher absences impacted more than 3,600 in-person students — just over half the student population of the seven schools: Bradford High School, Indian Trail High School and Academy, Tremper High School, Harborside Academy, LakeView Technology Academy, Lincoln Middle School and Reuther Central High School.
Ruder said the district found substitutes for fewer than half of the absent teachers. The district planned to combine classes or repurposing other staff.
Contact Elliot Hughes at [email protected] or 414-704-8958. Follow him on Twitter @elliothughes12.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/09/21/276-kenosha-teachers-call-sick-forcing-switch-virtual-school/5855768002/