Coronavirus has shut schools down since spring and will keep them closed for the foreseeable future. This means the jobs of thousands of support staff, like custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, are in question. 7 on Your Side reached out to get answers.
It’s nearly in the 90s on a hot July morning and the line outside the Arlington Food Assistance Center grows. Ruby Ledbetter arrived early before the doors opened. She does it every week.
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“I’m not able to work because the schools are viral,” Ledbetter said. “And I don’t know when we’re going to be able to go back for extended care.”
Ledbetter worked as a before and after school extended care aid, but with no kids in class, there was no need for her.
“So we’re not working right now, and I don’t know how we’re going to make it,” Ledbetter said.
There’s no need for a lot of school support staff which ranges from aids to custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers-- all the people who help run a school. It’s why 7 on Your Side reached out to DMV school districts hoping to learn more about the fate of their jobs. Here’s what we found from the area’s largest school districts:
Montgomery, Prince George’s, Prince William counties, and D.C. all say there are no plans to lay off staff, and they’re actively working to incorporate them into virtual learning.
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The idea is, if students return next year, the school will still be staffed and ready to go.
Frederick County, Maryland, however, says that on Sept. 15, an unknown number of cafeteria workers and bus drivers will be laid off to save money. The superintendent is promising when Frederick County returns to normal, their jobs will return as well.
For now, we may see more of what Arlington Public Schools is doing, developing a plan for these employees to continue getting paid, by moving them into different, temporary roles, like providing direct support to students virtually learning and childcare.
Many school employees in the DMV are counting on plans to keep employed, regardless of how long the pandemic lasts.
"I just been borrowing money, it’s the only way I can manage at this point," Ledbetter said.