PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Teachers at Olney Charter High School staged a mass call out on Monday after 17-year-old Alayna Thach, a senior at the school, died from COVID-19 last week.
Alayna’s family sent CBS3 a statement saying they stand in solidarity with the teachers, and Alayna would have been supportive of their decision if she were here today.READ MORE: Amtrak Forced To Reduce Service Along Northeast Corridor Due To COVID-Related Staffing Shortage
“I don’t think this was the time or the way to go about this,” Olney Charter High School Principal James Thompson said.
It’s a clash over COVID-19 safety guidelines that has Philadelphia’s largest high school at odds with its teachers and their union.
“For the teachers who called out, I don’t blame them, you just want to be safe,” Pamala Dennis said.
On Monday, more than 40 educators called out at Olney Charter High School in what administrators are calling a mass “call out” over safe environments.
The move comes nearly a week after 12th grader Alayna Thach died from COVID-19.
“It’s understandable, it is,” one woman said.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Lindsay Noel Set To Become First Woman Magician To Appear On 'Penn & Teller: Fool Us'
The union that’s representing them, AFT, says, “Our union unequivocally did not organize what management are labeling a ‘mass call out.’ However, in the aftermath of a student death, Olney’s management should have been more proactive in moving to fully virtual learning before late last night.”
“I think that we actually go far above and beyond with our protocols any time that someone does identify themselves as having COVID,” Thompson said.
This surge in cases is not only concerning these teachers. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says Randolph Technical High School is shut down for 48 hours, and currently, five schools — Ethan Allen, Abram Jenks, John Welsh, Pennypacker and Sullivan — are fully paused due to COVID.
“Clearly, we are seeing as we are seeing across the world in an uptick in cases and we are being mindful of that,” Monica Lewis, a spokesperson for the school district, said.
With COVID-19 being their biggest battle, the principal of Olney Charter School says this disagreement is another thing they’ll have to put behind them.
“There’s a lot more that we could be focusing on,” said.MORE NEWS: Embiid's Double-Double Helps 76ers Hold Off Spurs, 115-109
Olney Charter says they offer additional nurse rapid testing and contact tracing and are 100% sure Alayna did not contract COVID-19 from school.