desk stock file photo school

During a tour of the West Jefferson High School with coronavirus precautions it can be seen that each desk in the classroom has a grey or red sticker on the top corner in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Each period, students will be asked to alternate their use of desks and to clean them off after each class. The school is scheduled to open on August 26. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Dozens of teachers in Livingston Parish called in sick Wednesday in a protest targeting the school board and administrators over the district's reopening plans.

Since the beginning of the school year, Livingston Parish teachers have said school preparations were inadequate amid the coronavirus pandemic

Tamara Cutit, the president of Livingston Federation of Teachers who's taught at Denham Springs Freshman High School for 17 years, said the goal of the sickout was to raise attention to those concerns to open up talks with district leaders.

A number of teachers say they've struggled with balancing online and in-person instruction and some students are falling behind because of over-worked teachers and other logistical problems, Cutit said.  

"We have not been able to participate in decision-making about what we’re required to do," she said. "We are the ones in the classroom. We’re the ones who are having to do the work.”

School officials say nearly 100 teachers took part in the sickout, but the unions representing 1,100 of Livingston Parish's 1,590 public school teachers say far more participated. 

Schools in Livingston Parish were open to students Wednesday, and substitute teachers and staff members stood in place of students' regular teachers if they were out.

“All the kids had a teacher for their classrooms,” said district spokeswoman Delia Taylor. 

Roughly 7% of the school district's 2,600 students are taking classes online, though some have moved between in-person and virtual instruction since classes started. 

Teachers in Pointe Coupee Parish staged similar sickouts over pay raises, which led to schools closing two days earlier this month in response. They returned to classrooms after striking a truce when the school board agreed to revisit approving raises.


Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com, and follow him on Twitter @youssefrddad