A dozen Virginia lawmakers call on Governor Ralph Northam (D) to ensure that all public school teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 12 receive their full salary and benefits during the closings schools caused by the virus.
In a letter sent to Northam on Thursday, lawmakers also asked the governor to work with school districts to ensure that schools do not fire or lay off any employees for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
All public and private schools in the state have been closed at least so far, on Northam’s orders, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“It is essential that our public schools continue to provide quality education to our students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” read the letter, organized by Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) and signed by 11 other Democratic delegates. “It requires a public commitment from your administration to provide adequate protection to all public school employees who provide these essential services to our communities.” “
Legislators are also asking Northam to work with school officials to give employees who plan to retire at the end of 2020 full compensation and benefits, and to give all school staff members paid vacation and medical insurance.
Teachers seeking tests or treatments for the virus, wrote lawmakers, should have their costs reimbursed by their school systems. A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. While some school districts in Virginia are still finalizing their plans, others have announced plans to retain and compensate employees during the closure.
Loudoun County public schools, which serve 84,000 people in northern Virginia, will continue to pay their nearly 14,000 hourly and full-time employees their regular wages, wrote Superintendent Eric Williams in a letter to families on March 23.
The system is also diverting part of its budget to create an “income replacement program” for part-time hourly employees, such as occasional teachers, wrote Williams. The initiative is expected to last until April 10 and may be extended.
“Caring for our employees … is an important part of community care,” wrote Williams. “To this end, our payroll operations are not lacking in pace.”
The letter to Northam was signed by Democratic Dels. Foy, Kaye Kory (Fairfax), Elizabeth R. Guzman (Prince William), Sam Rasoul (Roanoke), Paul E. Krizek (Fairfax), Rodney T. Willett (Henrico), Dan I. Helmer (Fairfax), Patrick A. Hope (Arlington), Jeion A. Ward (Hampton), Kenneth R. Plum (Fairfax), Danica A. Roem (Prince William) and Roslyn C. Tyler (Sussex).