As the situation with COVID-19 develops, the MEA is advocating for several key items that both support our educators and students. Below are the key issues the Association has either already accomplished or is working on to help our members and students. These are intended to help answer some questions you may have and have been updated as of 3/19/2020.
1. MEA advocated for the pay for our hourly employees throughout the school year, regardless of what happens with the COVID-19 outbreak, and on 3/19/2020 Governor Mills signed an Executive Order requiring all school districts to pay hourly employees throughout the remainder of the school year. Read the full Executive Order here.
2. Emergency legislation passed on 3/17/2020 that allows for the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, to waive the mandated number of school days. Individual districts will need to apply for this waiver to the Department of Education.
3. MEA asked the State to apply for a federal waiver to request the suspension of mandated standardized tests for this school year. It is not known yet if this waiver will be granted, but the request will be made. The U.S. Department of Education said it recognizes the extraordinary circumstances and will consider targeted one-year waivers of the assessment requirements as well as adjusted testing windows, when needed.
4. The emergency legislation passed also mandates that nutrition services to students must continue when schools are closed due to COVID-19.
5. Schools will receive an additional $63 million more in funding for the 2020-21 school year, giving peace of mind to school administrators and school boards that resources will be available.
1. MEA is advocating for increased flexibility for remote learning days.
2. MEA is advocating for the use of virtual meetings for educators and pushing to keep educators out of buildings. This is not guaranteed, but MEA will push for this to become the new norm for the foreseeable future.
1. MEA has not in any way condoned an arrangement where educators are in the buildings throughout the shutdown, regardless of what you are hearing from an administrator. If an administrator has created an arrangement in your district regarding your work that you do not find acceptable/comfortable, please contact MEA immediately. Your working conditions are mandatory subjects of bargaining, and MEA is here to support you during this difficult time.
2. MEA recommends if hourly employees are being asked to conduct duties outside of your normal duties that you agree to helping, but only if that duty seems reasonable. For example, an ed tech asked to help pack lunches, in a safe way with enough distance would seem reasonable. If you have a question about what seems reasonable, contact MEA immediately.