GAE statement on COVID-19 and the work of our schools’ ESPs

For Immediate Release
March 17, 2020

Please attribute the following statement, regarding the work of the state's ESPs and the impact of COVID-19, to Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators

"As we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) wants to thank all of the educational support professionals (ESPs) - our school food workers, custodians, bus drivers and others - who are on the front line of preparing and delivering food to the children who rely on our public schools for their daily nutritional needs.

Our educational support professionals know and interact with the children in their schools every day. They have firsthand knowledge of what meals and clean schools -- things many of us take for granted -- represent to these children and their families. They are to be applauded for their mettle during these unsettling times.

There are those among them who may be facing lost paychecks and working in unsafe conditions. Georgia and our nation must provide support and confront the prevailing systemic issues such as providing a state salary schedule and extended leave benefits for ESPs, in our public schools that have been amplified by this crisis.

GAE supports Gov. Kemp's call for the closure of our schools and for our children to continue their studies from home to help mitigate the spread of the virus. However, as educators and parents come to grips with this new reality, we must recognize that everyone does not have the same opportunity to take care of their family during these turbulent times, and many are disproportionately affected by schools and businesses closing.

We ask that all stay calm as our leadership, at all levels, work through this ever-changing situation to ensure that school employees and families are safe while we continue to educate our children."