Philadelphia teachers stage protest after student's COVID-19 death

Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia moved students to remote learning Monday amid a massive "sick out" staged by teachers at the high school after a 17-year-old student died of COVID-19 complications, according to multiple reports. 

Officials said the "sick out," in which roughly 40 teachers participated by calling out sick from work at the school that day, "hindered and interrupted Olney's ability to operate and provide in-person instruction," local affiliate Fox 29 reported.

The high school sent out a letter to students' parents and guardians Sunday night to inform them that classes were moving online and staff is expected to teach remotely through Jan. 14, according to Fox 29.


The student who died, Alayna Thach, was a senior in the process of visiting colleges, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. She was an honor-roll student and wanted to become a life coach. Per Fox 29, she contracted the coronavirus in early December.

Thach's aunt, Hien Yem, spoke to local affiliate CBS 3 Philly on behalf of Thach's mother, telling the outlet that her niece's COVID-19 infection seemed mild at first, until things took a turn for the worse. 

Hien also said that Thach was not vaccinated, but was scheduled to get the shot next month, in January, per CBS 3. Both of the student's parents are reportedly fully vaccinated.

Thach's family sent a statement to CBS 3 to say that they stood in solidarity with the teachers who were calling out in protest of in-person learning amid the COVID-19 surge, CBS 3 reported. They added that their daughter would have been in solidarity with the "sick out," as well.

Meanwhile, Olney Charter High School Principal James Thompson said of the "sick out," “I don’t think this was the time or the way to go about this,” according to CBS 3.

Olney Charter said it had performed contact tracing and was 100 percent sure Alayna had not contracted the virus from attending the school, per the outlet.