Brookhaven teacher fired for not returning to class due to COVID-19 concerns

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BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (WJTV) – A Brookhaven teacher was fired after refusing to teach in a crowded classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before she was let go from Lipsey Middle School, Shunta Davis was a three-time teacher of the year, earned a AAA endorsement on her teaching license and was nominated for a 12 News’ Cool Schools highlight.

Davis said her classroom is one of the larger rooms in the building, but it would still be impossible to social distance the 23 to 24 students she was supposed to teach. She called out for the first day of in-person class on September 14. Davis contested the district’s plan for weeks, but they decided to do virtual learning for 10 days before bringing students back.

“And I was basically told that’s what they have desk shields for. That’s what they wear their masks for. And this is how it’s going to be. Every class is going to be an average of 25 because it’s a large 6th grade group,” she stated.

After missing the first day, Davis said the principal and deputy superintendent delivered a letter to her. The letter stated because she doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions and if she didn’t come back, she would be fired.

“It’s not so much the traditional setting. Because I’m okay with us coming back every day but with a reasonable amount of students in the classroom.”

Davis’ four children are taking part in virtual learning. The district has allowed the option for students for the first nine weeks, but Davis is concerned about teachers. She’s afraid of transmitting coronavirus to her mother, who has health issues of her own.

“And I was not even offered the opportunity to teach them virtually through Canvas or through a Zoom call. It was basically you don’t want to come back to the classroom with 24 students, you’re gone. We don’t want you.”

This would have been Davis’ eighth year teaching. She said the students are the ones really hurting in all of this. Davis said she would go back, if only the district reduced class sizes or allowed virtual teaching.

12 News reached out to the superintendent of the district. We have not heard back at this time.

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