SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Per the health department’s request, Springfield Public Schools (SPS) will begin providing child care for first responders and healthcare workers next week.
Paraprofessionals and support staff are being asked to return to work.
As concerns about COVID-19 intensify, this decision has caused some controversy.
Tom Krause, a retired teacher of 31 years, says SPS should have handled this situation differently.
“If the Superintendent might’ve even asked for volunteers it might’ve gone well,” Krause said.
Krause says this is an example of bad leadership.
“I’m very surprised that a superintendent this size school district would not stand up and fight for his people,” Krause said. “Because he is putting the health of those par’s and those staff members at risk. And the children that go to daycare also.”
Stephen Hall, SPS chief communications officer, understands why people like Krause have concerns.
“With things rapidly changing and regular life changing in dramatic ways, I think it’s normal for people to be fearful and anxious,” Hall said.
Hall says his district has a responsibility.
“Make life as normal, as good as it can possibly be during these challenging times, and that by doing so, some of that anxiety and fear will fall away,” Hall said.
Childcare will be in groups of 10 or less.
“We will not be co-mingling or having any big groups,” Hall said. “We’ll be honoring the social distancing that is so important.”
Under certain circumstances, paraprofessionals and support staff will be excused from work.
“If anyone has a chronic health condition, or they’re caring for someone with a chronic health condition that would make them at risk,” Hall said. “If anyone is ill or having symptoms of illness.”
As well as if an employee has child care needs.
“There are a number of options that are available to our staff,” Hall said. “We’re communicating that with them so that they know, we’re here to work with you. We’re going to help each other through these uncertain times.”
Teachers who are preparing to teach online are being asked to work from home.
Beginning Monday, March 23, free breakfast and lunch will be available at every SPS school.