Springfield Public Schools announced they are requiring employees to return to work during the COVID-19 outbreak on March 24 to provide childcare services for healthcare providers and first responders.
SPS have closed until April 24 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep staff and students safe. However, SPS employees are now being asked to work 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help the community during this time. Paraprofessionals and support staff will work at five elementary schools with 350 plus kids.
Some in the SPS community responded to the announcement through Facebook. Some feel this is a good way to help the community, while others feel this is going to continue the spread of COVID-19.
Tom Krause, a retired teacher, expressed his concern of this plan on Facebook. In a post, Krause asked members of the community to take a stand for educators and children.
“I speak for educators who are fearful to speak out against the decisions SPS leadership is making,” Krause said via his Facebook post.
Krause added that he’s a little disappointed in the community for not speaking up for those who can’t speak up for themselves right now.
“Yeah it sounds good to offer daycare, but let's do this the right way,” Krause said.
Some healthcare workers felt this plan is beneficial to those who do not have a choice about going to work during this time.
“Without this service, it would severely hinder the healthcare system to provide care to the sick,” said Kim Sales Medley, a healthcare provider. “We would rather stay home also, but we work for the benefit of all and the greater good.”
Medley added that extra hand-washing and limited physical contact will help.
Everyone will have their temperature and other possible symptoms assessed upon entering the select SPS schools which will serve as childcare centers. Kids will be in groups of 10 or less, according to Stephen Hall, an SPS official.
Others feel this is asking much more of the paraprofessional and staff than what is required for their job.
“My opinion is this is dangerous for the caretakers of the kids of medical staff,” said Stephanie Howard, who shared Krause's post into a Facebook group. “I have no idea what they should do, I just wouldn’t want to be one of the people watching the kids.”
Some are upset because they think by having this childcare option, it defeats the purpose of closing schools.
While some people are in support of this idea and others are strongly against it, there are some people who want to find a way to meet in the middle or find an alternative plan.
Like Johanna Wood, a former teacher of 13 years. She thinks that this type of service should come from those who want to volunteer.
Wood stated that she would give her time to help take care of children for the health care workers if it came down to it.
“As a former teacher, I would gladly give my time to care for the children of our healthcare workers,” Wood said. “If I had the opportunity to help those health care professionals who are trying to keep us all safe and healthy, I wouldn’t bat an eye at it.”
Hall said paraprofessionals and support staff with chronic health conditions, helping someone with health issues or are sick themselves, are excused from this.
“If other districts can do this with volunteers, Springfield can do the same. And if they’re not then they should be held accountable for anything that happens,” Krause said.
Wood affirmed that regardless of where individuals stand on this topic, it’s important for everyone to support one another during the outbreak.
“Everyone should do their part to help each other out,” Wood said. “No one is certain what may happen, but we will make it through this together. Let’s continue to be the great community that we have always been.”