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Tacoma teachers stage 'sick out' over COVID-19 safety concerns

Some Tacoma teachers staged a "sick out" Wednesday to bring attention to safety concerns as the district plans for the return of more students in classrooms.

TACOMA, Wash. — A group of Tacoma teachers staged a "sick out" Wednesday to bring attention to safety concerns as Tacoma Public Schools plans for the return of more students in classrooms.

An Instagram account called "Safe Return Tacoma" posted on Sunday encouraging teachers to take a sick day on Wednesday and take mini actions during the work day to support the message.

The group sent a letter to school district leaders with four demands: the school district ensure safety protocols are strictly followed; schools return to in-person learning only when the entire community has access to vaccinations and case counts; teachers have the option to continue remote learning; and hazard pay is offered to staff.

KING 5 reached out to Tacoma Public Schools which sent the following statement:

"We hear their concerns, and we share their concerns. That's why we've addressed all the issues with our labor partners in weekly and ongoing discussions.

Because we care so much about student and staff member health and safety, we've followed all the requirements, recommendations and guidance of our state and local health departments and the state Department of Labor and Industries for the safe return to schools of our staff and students."

Teachers said the "sick out" should not greatly impact students because students work independently or in small groups on Wednesdays. Safe Return Tacoma encouraged teachers to set students up with asynchronous work during their absence.

Third through 12th graders in Tacoma are expected to return to the classroom next month.