- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 11, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A group of teachers in Utah has organized an event to encourage educators across the state to call in sick and use the day off to get tested for the coronavirus amid a surge in confirmed infection cases.

“There are no testing requirements for teachers or students currently,” Granite School District teacher Lindsay Plummer said.

Some teachers believe the “test out” planned for Thursday will prompt state leaders to do more to limit the spread of COVID-19 and increase safety protocols in classrooms, FOX13 reported.

Plummer said the group was inspired to act following remarks made by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday, when he put in place a statewide mask mandate.

“The goal of doing something like this is we want to push them to do more,” she said.

The Utah Education Association said it is aware of event but is urging teachers to be patient.

“I really want to make sure our educators come together in a united way,” Association President Heidi Matthews said. “A widespread statewide testing protocol is in the works. We at the Utah Education Association have been in contact with the governor’s office.”

Herbert’s office has said all teachers have universal access to testing.

“The Utah Department of Health is also working to expand rapid asymptomatic testing to high school teachers in the state,” the office said in a statement.

The Utah Education Association has urged all secondary schools in high transmission areas to shift to virtual learning.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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