An organized group of Bend-La Pine students is calling for a mass sick-out on Monday saying the current COVID situation has created “a substantial health risk” within local schools.
“We are not safe, as this (omicron) variant alone has resulted in the largest amount of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Bend-La Pine Student Union group wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. “We pledge to take direct action against the inhumane school conditions we continue to be subjected to, starting with a sick strike.”
The group has about 500 Instagram followers and only a handful of Facebook followers, so it’s unclear how or if the message is making its way to the district’s student population at large.
We’ve reached out for comment, but have not yet heard back. (School was still in session when we called.)
In the Instagram post, the group said it will have a list of “common sense alterations the district can make to improve school safety” by Monday.
School district officials said they had not heard about the planned strike and hoped to get more information.
Local COVID cases in the last month have jumped by more than 1,100% as the omicron variant continues to surge.
In Deschutes County right now, more than 13,000 people (1 in 14 residents) have COVID-19.
According to the most recent numbers on the Bend-La Pine Schools COVID dashboard, 680 students on Thursday were out with COVID and another 242 were quarantined due to exposure.
Thirty-eight staff members were out with COVID or quarantined due to exposure.
Bend-La Pine Schools has around 18,000 students and 2,000 staff members.
The district has told families it wants to do everything it can to keep kids in the classroom, despite the COVID surge.
Superintendent Steven Cook said individual classrooms or schools could return to remote learning if staffing issues arose, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.
The district says it’s taking steps to reduce potential exposure by limiting spectators at sporting events, making testing available in all schools, providing medical-grade and KN95 masks to students and staff and urging parents to step up the masks game for kids.
In the student group’s call to action, they say “our health is not a game; we are not disposable.”
This story will be updated.
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