WASHINGTON - As COVID-19 cases are increasing daily, schools have shuttered, cities are going into quarantine, and panic has begun to grip the American public. Although the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was a step in the right direction to provide much-needed relief, Congress cannot stop there. The National Education Association is calling on members of Congress and the Trump administration to implement immediate financial support measures first, along with regulatory relief that students desperately need from the Department of Education. Among the top measures that NEA is advocating:
- Provide immediate stimulus checks to households
- Create a state stabilization fund to help prevent educator layoffs
- Expand guaranteed paid sick leave and family medical leaves
- Offer additional Medicaid funding to states
- Cancel student loan payments
- Address the “homework gap” for students without WiFi and devices
- Ensure comprehensive food assistance for students and their households
- Prevent housing instability and homelessness
The following is a statement that can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“As they always do, educators are stepping up to help America’s students in the face of this unprecedented global crisis. Now members of Congress must put aside partisan politics and put people first when crafting legislation to help alleviate the suffering caused by the coronavirus.
“American families are facing an economic crisis and need support now, and ‘stimulus’ checks for households are just a first step. More economic relief is needed, particularly in combating the inequities that are negatively impacting communities of color and other marginalized people. That’s why cancelling — not just suspending — federal student loan payments and expanding unemployment insurance are critical next steps to combating this deadly global pandemic. To avoid laying off educators as the economy struggles, Congress needs to inject tens of billions in state budgets through a state stabilization fund and ensure that families can stay home without fear of losing income for being sick. Congress also must enact legislation that prevents housing instability and a rise in homelessness in this time of economic uncertainty.
“With school closures related to COVID-19, there must be safeguards to ensure that the more than 20 million children who rely on school meals will not go hungry. That’s why we are urging members of Congress to expand food assistance for students and families, and ensure flexibility in the school meals program to keep children fed. The next legislation also must address the major inequities that exist in the ‘homework gap,’ which could cause millions of students who don’t have Wi-Fi or devices at home to fall behind. In this time of global crisis, the U.S. Department of Education must adjust its regulations, especially Every Student Succeeds Act testing and interventions, and provide reasonable flexibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“America’s public schools are the economic engines of tens of thousands of communities that provide not just education, but also jobs and community-sustaining economic benefits. The path to our nation’s recovery runs through our classrooms. Congress and the Trump administration must do their part in getting the American people back on track in this global crisis.”
More resources are available at www.nea.org/coronavirus