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A message for ESPs from WEA Vice President Janie White

03/26/2020

Many Education Support Specialists are still working on-site to ensure that food service, childcare and other essential services for students, health care workers and first responders are provided. Thank you. You are heroes.

For all of us, the level of uncertainty has been hard as we navigate this unchartered territory, especially for our ESPs. In response, WEA has been working hard to support our ESP locals and has defined three priorities to guide us in this ever-changing territory.

1. Safety -- of our members, families, students and communities. Saving lives is the whole reason Governor Inslee is taking all the steps he is taking, not just closing schools, but ordering the "stay home, stay safe" restrictions.

2. Economic security for our members, for their personal financial security and because we all contribute to our local and state economies, which are taking huge hits due to the coronavirus.

3. Flexibility -- in what work looks like. It is not unreasonable to expect that if we are being paid, we are continuing to do work, so long as we are healthy, and the work maintains the health and safety of our members, families, students and communities.

Right now, we can answer two important questions for our ESP members:

1. Am I still insured? – if you qualified for SEBB health care by Feb. 29, your benefits will continue through the closures.

2. Am I still getting paid? – Your local association is negotiating pay, and based on direction from the Governor and OSPI, your local should be able to negotiate that you continue to be paid during closure. Make sure to talk to your local president if you have any questions.

For our paraeducator members:

1. The Professional Educators Standards Board (PESB) has issued emergency rules surrounding the paraeducator Fundamental Course of Study (FCS). If your district did not complete paraeducator training this year, it has until June 20, 2021 to provide the full four courses of training.

2. PESB is offering a webinar at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 31, to share updates and answer questions about the paraeducator certificate program. Register here. If you can't attend, the webinar will be recorded and posted to the PESB YouTube page.

Please be sure to check out our WEA COVID-19 web page for information, news and uplifting stories. We can all use more of those and that includes your stories. Please send us stories of how you are helping students and community during these difficult times to WEA@washingtonea.org. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and your loved ones. I am sending you a virtual hug

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