Olney Charter High School switches to distance learning after teachers’ mass call – CBS Philly


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Teachers at Olney Charter High School held a mass appeal on Monday after school elder Alayna Thach, 17, died of COVID-19 last week.

Alayna’s family sent CBS3 a statement saying she stood in solidarity with the teachers, and Alayna would have supported their decision had she been here today.

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“I don’t think this is the time or the way to do it,” said Olney Charter High School Principal James Thompson.

It’s a clash over COVID-19 safety guidelines that has Philadelphia’s largest high school at odds with its teachers and their union.

“For the teachers who called, I don’t blame them, you just want to be safe,” Pamala Dennis said.

On Monday, more than 40 educators called Olney Charter High School in what administrators are calling a mass “call” on safe environments.

The decision comes nearly a week after 12th grade student Alayna Thach died from COVID-19.

“It’s understandable, it is,” said one woman.

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The union that represents them, AFT, says: “Our union clearly did not organize what management describes as a ‘mass appeal’. However, following the death of a student, Olney’s management should have been more proactive in moving to fully virtual learning before the end of last night.

“I think we actually go way beyond our protocols anytime someone identifies themselves as having COVID,” Thompson said.

This influx of cases does not only concern these teachers. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said Randolph Technical High School was closed for 48 hours and that currently five schools – Ethan Allen, Abram Jenks, John Welsh, Pennypacker and Sullivan – are on a full hiatus due to COVID.

“Obviously we are seeing as we are seeing across the world an increase in the number of cases and we are aware of it,” said Monica Lewis, spokesperson for the school district.

With COVID-19 being their biggest battle, the Olney Charter School principal says this disagreement is another thing they will need to put behind them.

“There is a lot more we could focus on,” said.

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Olney Charter says they are offering additional rapid nursing tests and contact tracing and are 100% sure Alayna did not contract COVID-19 at school.


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