Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico)
Posted: October 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 28, 2020

Haaland Joins Legislation to Keep Schools Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic

Albuquerque, New Mexico – This week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) joined a bill that would help keep schools safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Safe Schools Act, introduced by Rep. Chuy Garcia (Ill.-04), to provide $17 billion to school districts to pay for PPE, cleaning supplies, technical training, and additional staff support needed to keep students, educators, and communities healthy.

As New Mexico schools face a surge in coronavirus cases, administrators and teachers are struggling to acquire adequate PPE. Schools managed tight budgets before COVID-19 and the emergency relief funding in the CARES Act helped schools with initial moves to remote learning. Now, many districts are moving to hybrid models and bringing students back into the classroom creating a need for PPE, hand sanitizer, and other supplies to keep students, teachers, and staff healthy.

“Our teachers and school districts are doing everything they can to keep our students from falling into the gaps during this pandemic, but the Trump Administration continues to push reopening without giving them the proper resources. The PPE for Safe Schools Act works to address this, by providing crucial funding for our schools that will make sure we keep school staffs, teachers, students and the broader community healthy,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected our education system. Whether in-person, remote, or a combination of both, students and teachers have returned to vastly different classrooms this fall in Chicago and around our country. Despite the uncertainty, one thing is clear: students, educators, and support staff returning to in-person classes should not have to worry about risking their own health. That is why we are introducing the PPE for Safe Schools Act,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. “It is simply irresponsible to have our kids return to school without proper safety measures in place. Our teachers, staff, and students need safe schools now.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered learning in the short term and for years to come. Whether in-person, remote, or a combination of both, students and teachers are returning to vastly different classrooms. Despite the uncertainty, one thing is clear: students, educators, and support staff returning to in-person classes should not have to worry about risking their own health.

The PPE for Safe Schools Act would provide schools with the funds they need to protect students, teachers and support staff, based on estimated needs including:

  • $8.8 Billion for PPE in schools and school buses;
  • $1.6 Billion for cleaning and health supplies; and
  • $6.6 Billion to fund additional demands on cleaning staff.

In August, the White House declared teachers essential workers without committing the resources necessary to keep them safe in the classroom. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that it will no longer pay for PPE it had previously covered for schools. Any serious effort to reopen schools safely must commit the resources necessary to do so.

Haaland held a roundtable in August with teachers, councilors, students and administrators to understand what they were facing and inform her advocacy for funding for schools in relief packages. In September, the U.S. House passed a renewed Heroes Act that included funding to bolster education and child care, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support child care for families.

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