|Posted:||January 11, 2021 04:57 PM|
|From:||Representative Dan L. Miller|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||COVID-19 Education Workforce Preservation|
|I plan to re-introduce legislation that will help support and preserve the education workforce during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate the spread of the virus, many schools decided to begin the year with virtual-only instruction. As a result, thousands of Education Support Professionals (“ESPs”) —paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service workers, nurses—have received furlough notices.
ESPs provide critical services to our schools and students. It would be a disservice to these professionals, and to the schools and students they serve, if they have a lack of clarity about their job status. Schools cannot safely reopen without ESPs — the people who serve lunches, drive buses, and serve as classroom aides. But if these employees are repeatedly furloughed and brought back, they will be forced to seek other jobs. To keep our schools ready to educate our students, we must keep our support staff employed.
Equally important, we need to keep teachers serving their students. District enrollment may be more volatile than at any time in recent memory because of this pandemic, but we expect that volatility to smooth out eventually. At a time when the commonwealth is facing a teacher shortage, the very last thing we want is to lose thousands of teachers, who may leave the profession or the state forever, and be unable to meet student needs in one month or two months.
My legislation will provide compensation and healthcare protection to school employees if furloughs occur because school buildings are closed for in-person instruction. Schools will reopen when it’s safe to do so, and this simple legislation will help to preserve a critical workforce.
Introduced as HB147