A coalition of 6 local Education Support Professional unions, representing over 10,000 workers in Colorado’s K-12 public schools sent a letter today to Governor Polis.
The coalition came together to discuss health and safety and funding concerns. ESPs may soon be sent back to work without proper staffing and equipment to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of us are back at work without the proper PPE and sanitizers we need to stay safe. We also face the threats of losing our jobs or taking pay cuts due to the negative impacts of COVID-19 on our state budget.
ESPs are the people who drive kids to school, support their study, keep the lights on and the HVAC running, prepare and hand out meals, communicate directly with parents, clean buildings, assist students with special needs, provide first aid and health room care, and do many other things. In short, without us, our schools don’t function. And yet, we are the first to be sent “back in” to potentially dangerous conditions and the first to be “let go” when the financial going gets tough.
The coalition is asking to discuss the following with the governor:
- Adequate PPE is guaranteed for all employees and students before their return to buildings.
- Custodial staffing is fulfilled at pre-2003 levels to sanitize entire buildings daily.
- Bus Drivers and Assistants will be increased to safely transport students to school while maintaining social distancing.
- Direct learning supports-ie., paraprofessionals and paraeducators will not be cut and will maintain hours to coincide with students’ time in educational spaces (either remote or in-person).
- Should there be further breaks in in-person classroom instruction due to COVID-19, support staff will continue to be paid.
- The state legislature should prioritize education funding, which is notoriously behind already, when writing the budget for 2020-202