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School teachers in Idaho district go on strike after county experiences surge in coronavirus cases

School teachers in Idaho district go on strike after county experiences surge in coronavirus cases
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Hundreds of school teachers in an Idaho district have gone on strike over an uptick in local COVID-19 outbreaks.

Over 700 educators in the West Ada School District called out sick Monday, and more than 400 teachers called out sick on Tuesday after the district said it would proceed with some in-person and virtual learning, a local ABC affiliate KSAW-LD reported.

Teachers joined the strike after the district moved to proceed with learning sessions despite warnings by Central District Health (CDH) that Ada County was considered a coronavirus "red" zone, indicating a significant threat of possible virus transmissions.

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"When is enough, enough? If red is not the line, where is the line?" said West Ada teacher Zach Borman.

Borman is one of the roughly 700 teachers who called out sick on Monday.

"I would basically argue I am sick; this has been the most stressful and terrifying thing of my life," said Borman, adding that he is grading papers while voicing caution about the current COVID-19 threat in the school district.

The West Ada teachers union said it disagreed with the school board's plan to continue some in-person classes amid the district's rising safety risks, Idaho Press reported.

The decision to strike was met with backlash by users on social media, voicing dissatisfaction and critiquing the teachers who called out sick Monday.

"The lack of empathy, you can see it too just scrolling out on Facebook. To see some of those comments directed at them is heartbreaking," said Chelsey McGee, a parent in the school district.

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Borman has voiced his concerns during board meetings and via rounds of email, saying the hybrid learning the school has performed this semester is too risky given the current health guidance.

Some critics questioned the impact it would have on the students attempting to learn while navigating the pandemic's complex logistics.

"I don't think there's a single teacher in this district that's still in this district that doesn't care greatly about the education of their students," said Borman, adding, "I'm insulted by anyone that is assuming I'm doing this because I don't care about kids' education."

CDH reported a trend of rising infections throughout Ada County in early September.

On Oct. 11, the county recorded 548 cases and 23 new cases on Oct. 18, though some data could still be missing from more recent updates.

Since the outset of the pandemic, 157 fatalities due to COVID-19 have been recorded in the county.