Citing COVID-19 costs too big for New York school districts to carry alone, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that without specific federal funds New York schools, like those in the City and on Long Island, might not be able to reopen safely come fall.
“Everyone wants our schools to reopen, but the federal government must lead the way by funding the safety measures that would open the doors of New York and the nation’s schools in a way that helps ensure the coronavirus does not needlessly spread or infect teachers, kids or staff,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“Without federal dollars to cover the massive costs of PPE, barriers, cleaning supplies and more, local school budgets across the city, Long Island and beyond would be crushed, local taxes could rise and some schools might simply stay closed—and we do not want that. That is why we need to take action in ‘COVID-4’ and commit $175 billion to the goal of safely reopening K-12 schools for all,” Schumer added.
Schumer said costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), physical barriers and other supplies at schools, like those used for cleaning, could badly drain local resources, making it much harder for NYC, LI and suburban districts to open safely and ensure the collective protection of kids, teachers and staff. He announced a new legislative push to include much-needed assistance in a “Corona-4” legislative package. His plan would work to substantially cover the aforementioned costs with federal dollars, allowing schools to safely reopen. Schumer is pushing for $175 billion dollars for K-12 schools across the country, and says New York would see a massive chunk of that allotment.
Schumer’s plan, crafted alongside U.S. Senator Patty Murray, was just introduced as the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA), and includes other efforts as well, each critical to supporting childcare and education amid the pandemic. Schumer explained that without major help from the federal government, New York would be devastated and the nation would risk losing 4.5 million child care slots and losing 1.9 million education jobs, exacerbating students’ learning loss.
“The bottom line here is that the coronavirus brought with it unprecedented health and economic challenges for students, families, educators, and learning institutions across the country—challenges disproportionately felt by students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, and more,” Schumer added. “So, action is needed now to save teaching jobs, preserve millions of child care slots, and ensure every student has access to a safe, quality education.”
Highlighted aspects of the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) Schumer will fight for in COVID-4 include:
- $50 billion for a Child Care Stabilization Fund, to ensure that child care providers can stay open, educators can continue getting paid, and working families get tuition relief;
- $1.5 billion to address and prevent child abuse and neglect, to support the child welfare workforce and to fund community-based prevention programs that strengthen families;
- $354 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund ncluding:
- $175 billion for K-12 schools, to help schools address learning loss, implement public health protocols, and provide quality education to all students—whether they open in-person, remotely, or a hybrid of both;
- $132 billion for higher education, to help colleges and universities deliver a quality education for their students, implement public health protocols, and provide emergency financial aid to students for expenses like food, housing, child care, and technology;
- $33 billion for a Governor’s Fund, to allow governors to allocate funds for needed educational services to areas of their states hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
Aside from New York City, Schumer explained, citing Long Island data, that their local system “includes roughly 230 private and parochial schools. The enrollment is over 53,000 students, with approximately 4,873 teachers. The 127 public Long Island school districts have an enrollment of over 476,000 student and approximately 36,000 teachers.”
“Long Island is just one good example outside of New York City that shows how massive the need will be across the state to ensure safety in reopening our schools amid the pandemic—but we can do this if we bank on the science and adequately fund what it tells us,” Schumer said.