The city of Little Rock Teacher’s Union announced on Sunday that staff will not be in attendance on Monday September, 28. The Little Rock Education Association (LREA) said that teachers will be present to teach online classes but said educators will not be physically present in schools.
“At this juncture, LREA members believe that our schools are not safe for in-person instruction and that the risk to our students, our staff members and our community is too great,” the association said in a news release. The union said the move was not a strike or a work stoppage. Teachers won’t show up for in-person classes due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus in schools, the head of the local teacher’s union said Sunday.
“If we do not transition to virtual instruction now, someone is going to get sick. Someone is going to die,” union President Teresa Knapp Gordon said in a statement. “We will not be responsible for that happening.”
It was not clear how many teachers in the district planned to not show up for classes, but the superintendent of the 21,000-student district said officials were taking additional steps to ensure schools remain open for in-person classes.
The Little Rock School District announced in a letter to parents on Sunday that the district would be open with busing and meals provided as usual. The district noted that they expect their “dedicated teaching staff to be present,” but noted that they would be bringing in substitute teachers, as well. The district also threatened “disciplinary action” against teachers who were not present for in-person instruction.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, condemned the union’s decision and noted that the state has a declining positivity rate for coronavirus infections.
“We have had a good start to this school year, and we have handled the expected challenges with the well-being of our students and teachers as the highest priority. With a declining positivity rate in Pulaski County and with the safety measures in place, it is difficult to understand the resistance to teaching in the classroom,” Hutchinson said.
This is an ongoing situation and subject to change or alternation and will updated as warranted.