Warwick schools in session, despite teacher sick calls

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick schools were in session Thursday morning despite 82 teachers calling out, the superintendent announced.

In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Dr. Philip Thornton said teachers had threatened a “sick-out” to protest the stalled teacher contract negotiations.

They did, in fact, receive dozens of sick calls, but not enough to warrant canceling school.

On an average or high day, about 60 teachers within the district’s 21 schools would call out, according to Dr. Thornton.

He claims a vote was taken and teachers decided it would be Thursday, but that plan did not come to fruition, as there were teachers who still showed up.

Watch: Full interview with Dr. Thornton »
Watch: Full interview with Dr. Thornton »

Warwick Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh disagreed, saying talks of the “sick out” were just rumors and the union did not pressure any teachers to call out.

Netcoh said school officials never reached out to her to try and confirm the rumor.

“No one ever called the union office,” she said. “The superintendent has my cell phone number. And I have his. And he never called me.”

According to Thornton, teachers call out electronically and some teachers who initially reported in as sick for Thursday changed their status and “unselected their sickness” after his memo went out.

“At one school, Greenwood Elementary, we had five individuals sick. And now we only have one,” he said.

Warwick teachers have been working under an expired contract since August 2015.

In his letter, the superintendent said he’s optimistic an agreement will be reached in the very near future.

In the meantime, the union president said students are the ones who are suffering.