EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Leaders with the East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators are calling on teachers across the parish to stay home Monday, Oct. 5 as a day of action.
The president of the group says they’ve gotten several calls and emails from teachers who say their classrooms aren’t being cleaned and sanitized properly. The association says the main goal of the day of action is to make sure students can return to the classroom safely.
The action comes more than two months after teachers in East Baton Rouge made their voices heard to delay the start of in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the association’s president, Anita Augustus, says they have a different message for the district.
“It’s just plain and simple. Our classrooms have not been cleaned,” said Augustus.
Augustus took to social media Sunday night encouraging teachers across the district to stay home over complaints that things inside the schools are not being cleaned properly. She says the issue has been going on for a while with Aramark, the company the school uses for cleaning services.
“Taxpayers are paying for the services and the taxpayers are the ones who are suffering,” said Augustus. “We want our babies to be safe. We think that one COVID-19 case is one case too many...that’s one too many especially when it can be prevented.”
Augustus tells WAFB she has gotten several pictures and emails highlighting some of the problems like trash not being taken out on time and now she is concerned the deep cleaning and sanitizing that’s supposed to keep kids safe won’t happen.
“I can’t trust you to simply clean my classroom,” said Augustus. “How am I going to trust you to sanitize?”
The 9News Investigators got a copy of an email that went out last week to every teacher in the district, telling them that “changes in leadership” have already happened at Aramark because of the complaints and that a new action plan has been developed moving forward.
WAFB has also learned the district has invested more than $1.7 million across the school system for protective equipment and cleaning supplies and they’ve given teachers and students two reusable masks. The parish Office of Emergency Preparedness has also stepped in, donating more than 81,000 masks for each teacher and student. In addition, they’ve donated about 2,000 extra masks and three thermometers for every school.
WAFB’s Scottie hunter asked Augustus what she would say to criticism that the day of action on Monday was a little premature.
“I would say in August we did stand for safety about COVID-19 so if we did it in August and we were assured that things would be taken care of and it’s now the end of September, we’ve given it enough time,” Augustus responded.
The union president says actions speak louder than words and right now, the message they want to send is more needs to happen to keep students and teachers safe.
“We do not want to take the day off on Monday but we feel we have no other choice,” she added.
“We do not want a single child or adult to get COVID because things were not sanitized. We understand that this might be an inconvenience, but we’re asking you to stand with us because our hearts are to return to the classroom safely,” said Augustus.
We’re told the union recently sent out a survey to teachers and 82% of them are in support of the day of action for next Monday.
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