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WEAC president tells state legislators to ‘stop ignoring the problem’ of COVID-19 in schools

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 7:15 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The president of Wisconsin’s largest union of educators is asking state legislators to stop making the pandemic political when it comes to schools.

Ron Martin, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), wants state leaders to “stop ignoring the problem” when it comes to COVID-19 in schools.

“Wisconsin is failing to provide what children need most, stability,” said Martin.

Martin describes school for students and teachers as an unstable rollercoaster ride, saying "we are quarantining, coming back and quarantining again. He adds that teachers are at their breaking point, preparing for several different learning styles.

“In many ways, they are having to teach or prepare three different lessons and are spending 9-10 hours a day doing that. We need to get some relief to our educators,” said Martin. “Here we are October 6, and we have educators who are at the end of their rope.”

Martin said the state needs to set unchangeable benchmarks for school district to meet in order to offer in-person schooling safely.

“I think what’s happening out there is there’s a lot of changes going on and people are changing numbers and they’re changing what the benchmarks will be (to open or stay closed),” said Martin. “We can’t have that. We have to have it be consistent. Too many districts are tinkering around the edges putting students and staff in unsafe positions.”

Martin said the leadership has to start from the top with our legislators.

“It’s time for leaders to stop ignoring the problem,” said Martin.

The National Council of State Legislatures just released an analysis that says ‘Wisconsin has been the least active full-time legislature in the entire country since the start of the pandemic.’

“With a gaping hole in leadership at the federal level and a state legislative majority that refuses to come into session to do their job, our schools are relegated to the sidelines to watch the fall out,” said Martin.

Martin said the legislators need to start ‘doing their job’ to help school districts deal with staff absences, connectivity issues and provide more financial resources.

“If I as an educator, would you know, tell my boss I’m not going to come into work or I’m not going to teach kids, I would lose my job. That would be terms for being terminated,” said Martin. “Our legislators need to come in and they need to do the work of the legislators and so I’m just disappointed that they’re not willing to do that but they’ve made this a political issue, and it shouldn’t be our kids are counting on it.”

A ‘Pandemic School Stability Package’ is circulating among state democrats looking for co-sponsorship right now, but nothing has officially made it inside the capitol chambers for discussion.

Senator Chris Larson, author of the bill, says the bills were created “in collaboration with school administrators to address the additional costs and logistical adjustments needed to implement virtual and in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provide the funding and flexibility so that districts can keep their staff, students, and their families safe while continuing to offer a high level of instruction.”

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