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New Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate Would Help Schools Reopen Safely

A new bill introduced by U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Chuck Schumer would be an important move toward allowing schools to open safely this fall. The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act includes $175 billion for K-12 schools, $12 billion for special education, and $4 billion for the E-Rate program to narrow the digital divide that is hitting our most vulnerable students.

“Educators want nothing more than to return to in-person instruction and be back with their students, but they know reopening school buildings and college campuses has to be done safely,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Sens. Patty Murray and Chuck Schumer know that students cannot wait because school districts across the country are working on school reopening plans now. That’s why they introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act, which will go a long way to giving our students and educators the resources they need to rise up from the economic fallout caused by this devastating COVID-19 pandemic.”

Speaking with NBC 30 recently, CEA Executive Director Don Williams said that Connecticut schools can’t reopen safely without additional funding. Districts will incur costs for masks and plastic shields, room dividers, the reconfiguration of common areas into new classroom spaces, and much more.

“If this is going to be done right, it has to be done safely,” Williams said.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has been advocating for new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding this spring, and yesterday introduced legislation to make sure districts will have the funding they need to educate students with disabilities when schools reopen.

“More than six million students with disabilities and their families [have been] facing unique and urgent challenges learning from home. Schools and educators are already stretched way too thin,” he said. “We need to include money to support students with disabilities in the next coronavirus relief package.”

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