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Superintendent says Pilgrim High School closed Friday due to teacher 'sick out'

Pilgrim High School

The superintendent of Warwick Public Schools said Pilgrim High School was closed Friday because of a teacher "sick-out."

The principal told NBC 10 News that 91 out of 140 Pilgrim teachers and staff members called out sick.

Union President Darlene Netcoh said there was not a sick out and that it must have been a coincidence.

"I know the administration is using the term sick out, but there is no organized sick out today," Netcoh said. "Whatever happened at Pilgrim happened at Pilgrim. The rest of the district is running."

The following statement was sent by Superintendent Philip Thornton early Friday morning:

As you are aware, we received several credible reports yesterday that Pilgrim High School teachers were planning a "sick-out" for today, Friday, October 6th. As a result my staff and I monitored the situation throughout the night and early this morning. It became clear that the rumor was in fact true. When the numbers rose to a level that we could not safely open the school due to the large number of teaching staff that had called out sick, we made the decision to cancel school at Pilgrim.
The most important element of school is having the regular classroom teacher working with students each and every day. A teacher "sick-out" like the one we experienced today hurts students and does nothing to bring the two sides closer together to resolve the contract.

Mayor Scott Avedisian said there have been "numerous" mediation sessions to resolve a contract impasse that dates back to August 2015.

"This morning, I spoke with School Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado, who said the Committee would be willing to go back to mediation in the hopes of resolving the contract dispute. I expect that the Teachers’ Union will also return to the table in a good faith effort to reach an agreement," Avedisian said in a statement.

The statement said the interest arbitration process continues and that the mayor expects an arbitration decision within the next month.

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