COVID Shaming in Tucson Unified

Superintendent explains why he hasn't reported coronavirus cases to the public
Posted at 10:49 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 17:45:29-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson Unified is the only Southern Arizona district that hasn't moved to hybrid learning.

The superintendent reveals a serious problem not with students, but with staff currently working at schools.

A reason, he said, he's staying silent about COVID cases at least to the public.

Some Southern Arizona districts are reporting COVID cases to the public with some broken down by student and staff counts.

Tucson Unified has not.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo explains why.

"TUSD has experienced a signifcant increase in online COVID shaming and bullying when information gets out about someone testing postive or having to quarantine," he said.

He said COVID shaming is happening online.

Employees turning against employees "calling them irresponsible calling them super spreaders saying you deserve to get it. We saw you without a mask in the teachers lounge," said Trujillo.

It's happened several times. Teachers reported being treated differently, ostracized, and not wanting to return to work.

"We've had a couple of situations where we almost experienced teachers resigning over status of being COVID-19 positive and getting out publicly," he said.

He said that's put him in a position to do the minimum, which is to only notify close contacts.

We reached out to TEA president Margaret Chaney.

She responded, "We were made aware of this behavior last week. We consider name calling childish and unprofessional. We requested that the district simply create a dashboard like the one at Amphi district. No one needs to know the names. Our members simply seek transparency by being kept in the loop. And I don't think this incident would prevent the district from being transparent."

Sunnyside's Superintendent says it's important for districts to have transparency.

“Trust is a really important factor to keep in play particularly when we're dealing with very disruptive situations which this pandemic has caused. Public has to trust us -- parents have to trust us.”

Trujillo said the district is in the process of developing a dashboard that will provide visibility to the COVID cases.