NAACP says districts should protect lives of teachers in reopening

The NAACP thinks both the parish and city school boards should provide medical coverage for teachers exposed to the Coronavirus as school reopens this month.

Rev. Ambrose Douzart, president of the Monroe/Ouachita NAACP, said Wednesday that both the local school boards are leaving teachers to defend themselves in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Both school districts have decided not to cover COVID related sick days beyond the ten days covered under the CARES ACT. Neither board is requiring or paying for instant tests for teachers or staff. Monroe School superintendent Dr. Brent Vidrine says the city system is relying on teachers and staff to self-test, at their expense, and not return to work if they test positive. He calls it the “honor system.”

Rev. Douzart said the most vulnerable element of either district’s workforce is its minority staff members, many of who have underlying illnesses that make them high risk.

“We believe that if teachers and staff are asked to work in unsafe conditions that the districts should at least assume some of the cost if they get sick,” Rev. Douzart said.

Rev. Douzart said many teachers and staff members cannot afford to use the regular sick days for COVID related sickness as a result of the district’s decision.

He said districts should either delay school face to face openings until it is safe or be prepared to underwrite the costs of medical treatment of employees who contract the disease at work and carry it home to their families.

“To do anything less almost says that teachers don’t count,” Douzart said.