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SFUSD sees rise in number of educators calling out before Thanksgiving

A large wave of teacher and worker absences swept across the San Francisco Unified School District on Tuesday — the last day before a long holiday weekend.

On a typical day, 7.5 percent of the teachers in the district are absent, according to the district. But Tuesday, that percentage was about 12 percent — a level that has the district rethinking next year’s academic calendar.

According to the district, there were 611 teachers and paraprofessionals who requested the day off Tuesday. The number was high enough that there were not enough substitutes to fill all of the vacant positions. While the district was able to fill 493 slots, 107 positions had to be filled with district office staffers who hold teaching credentials, according to district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

The issue of sick calls before holiday weekends is not new for the district, Blythe said. A previous pattern of many teachers requesting substitutes on the days leading up to Thanksgiving led the district in 2004 to change its calendar to have schools closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“However, it seems that there are a number of teachers who have moved to take the Tuesday before the holiday off,” Blythe wrote in an email.

Because of the large absence rate, Blythe said, Superintendent Richard Carranza has asked the committee that sets the academic calendar to consider taking off the entire Thanksgiving week next year.

If that move is made, the two instructional days lost that week would be moved to either the beginning or the end of the school year.

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