On July 30, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced $10 million in CARES Act funding will be spent on personal protective equipment, including masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, and COVID-19 tests. The governor said the spending does not include cleaning supplies, thermometers, or other supplies.
The governor said supplies will be available Aug. 14, the day after many districts start school.
OEA President Alicia Priest responds:
“We’re grateful that the governor will provide schools with some personal protective equipment, something OEA recommended weeks ago. Districts have been scrambling to make these purchases for months, but we’ll take it.
“However, districts, educators, and students have had an even more difficult time finding cleaning supplies — something the governor said he hasn’t even considered. That’s alarming.
“This is what CARES Act money should be spent on — not vouchers.
“We’re glad the governor has come to realize how important public schools are to our children and our communities. We’re teachers. We know the value of teaching in person. We know the kids whose only meal comes from their public school. We know the kids whose school is their safe space and are scared to go home.
“If you care about education professionals who dedicate their lives to these essential services, please listen to them. Many teachers and staff face an impossible choice: Put themselves and their families at risk or leave the work they love.
“We know the consequences of keeping schools closed. We’re the ones who have spent the past four and a half months working to mitigate those consequences. However, there are consequences to Governor Stitt’s delayed decisions and refusal to listen to the experts in health and in the classroom.
“This is a good first step, but the clock is ticking.”