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Educators Owed Basic Public Health Protection

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 23, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. BOURDEAUX. Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as we celebrate Public Schools Week, to talk about the urgent need to protect our teachers, educational support staff, all of their families, and the community at large in our schools.

While the national debate has centered around schools that are closed, in many States, such as Georgia, school districts with high COVID transmission rates are back to in-person teaching, but often without basic safety standards in place, such as requiring students to wear masks on school property.

Teachers and staff in Georgia do not enjoy the protection of strong teacher unions, and the State has exempted schools from liability around COVID. A teacher recognized for excellence in Forsyth County, in my district, chose to quit her job.

She wrote me, saying: Fortunately, my family earns enough money for me not to return to teach, but there are some others who don't have this blessing and are forced into dangerous circumstances. They can't speak up. They know their employment would be on the line if they did. So unless others like me speak up and out, this mess will continue.

Mr. Speaker, I join this teacher in speaking out. We owe our educators the courtesy of basic public health protection. We owe them prioritization in receiving the vaccine.

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