Abnormal teacher absences at several schools prompted this message to parents this  morning by the Little Rock School District:

This morning we are receiving a higher than normal number of “sick” calls. As of 5:30AM LRSD had just under 350 teachers call in sick. LRSD will have school today. We have most buildings with very low numbers of employees calling in sick. Sites where we have higher than normal absences would include the following: Central, Parkview, and JA Fair high schools. At the middle school level, we have higher than normal absences at Mabelvale, Mann, Henderson, and Cloverdale. At the elementary level, we have high numbers calling in sick at Booker Arts Magnet and Williams Magnet, Meadowcliff, and Otter Creek. It is important to note that our classified staff absentee rate is normal and that we have security staff available at each site.

We are deploying District staff to these sites this morning as well as receiving support from the Department of Education. Furthermore, we have worked with WillSub, our partner in supplying substitutes, to have LRSD receive as many substitutes as possible for coverage. We will keep you informed of developments over the course of the day.

We appreciate your support. Thank you and have a good day.

A teacher sick-out closed Little Rock schools Feb. 10 and 11. The district cited flu, but our sources told us that most absences were an action by teachers in response to various punitive actions against teachers by state Education czar Johnny Key. He decertified the teachers union and also approved a restructuring of schools that sidestepped reduction-in-force procedures. He’d earlier waived the teacher fair dismissal law in the district and has backed other measures that keep the state functionally in control of the district, though it will be allowed to have elections this year for a state-packed school board. Key also has refused to let the district make up the days missed Feb. 9 and 10 with home assignments, as other districts have been allowed to do in case of extraordinary absences or other circumstances.

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UPDATE II:

Teresa Knapp Gordon, president of the Little Rock Education Association, has released a statement. In it she says there are serious outbreaks of strep throat and influenza in the LRSD. But she also talks about the “ongoing infection of the privatization agenda” and otherwise compares the state’s treatment of the LRSD to sickness.

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Meanwhile, LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore mostly talks about taking precautions against the flu and coronavirus in his statement to parents. But at the end of the statement, says, “Now is not the time to attempt to make political statements by being absent.”

UPDATE:

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Here are the number of teachers absent at each school:

Bale Elementary 1
Baseline Elementary 2
Booker Arts Magnet Elementary 17
Brady Elementary 11
Carver Elementary 3
Chicot Elementary 8
Cloverdale Middle School 12
Dodd Elementary 5
Don R Roberts Elementary 3
Dunbar Middle School 4
Fair Park EC 1
Forest Heights Stem 8
Forest Park Elementary 1
Fulbright Elementary 4
Gibbs Elementary 8
Hall High School 16
Hamilton ALC 4
Henderson Middle School 16
JA Fair High School 14
Jefferson Elementary 1
LR Central High School 57
Mabelvale Elementary 5
Mabelvale Middle School 22
Horace Mann Middle School 13
McClellan High School 8
McDermott Elementary 8
Meadowcliff Elementary 15
Metro 1
King Elementary 2
Otter Creek Elementary 9
Parkview Arts Magnet High School 35
Pinnacle View Middle School 11
Pulaski Heights Elementary 2
Pulaski Heights MS 6
Rockefeller Elementary 3
Romine Elementary 1
Stephens Elementary 9
Terry Elementary 3
Wakefield Elementary 3
Washington Elementary 1
Watson Elementary 6
Western Hills Elementary 5
Williams Elementary 8