WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of teachers called out sick at Warwick Veterans Junior High School Wednesday.
School Superintendent Philip Thornton confirmed that 33 out of 87 teachers were out sick.
“Despite nearly 40% of the teachers out, all classes are covered at Vets at this time by substitutes and district staff,” Thornton said in a statement.
Thornton said the increase in teacher absences were isolated to Vets – with three teachers absent from both Winman Junior High and Pilgrim High School, and five absent from Tollgate High school.
Warwick school district has been in a prolonged contract dispute with the teachers union since August 2015. It’s not the first time the mention of a “sick out” has been floated in the school district.
“We have been told by the Warwick Teachers Union that they would never use a ‘sick out’ to protest the drawn out process of teacher contract negotiations. Fortunately, the virus spreading through the teaching ranks at Vets had no impact on the students, as we have a 95% student attendance rate today at Veterans Jr. High,” Thornton said.
In October, Thornton alerted parents about the possibility of canceling school after getting wind of a district-wide teacher “sick-out.” Dozens of teachers ended up calling out, but the numbers weren’t high enough to close the schools. At that time, Union President Darlene Netcoh said the union did not urge teachers to call out sick.