Reps. Garcia (TX), García (IL), Watson Coleman, Mfume Introduce Legislation to Help Keep Schools Safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic

October 23, 2020
Press Release
Media Contact: Robert Julien (DC): Email: Robert.julien@mail.house.gov; Cell: 202-227-0330

HOUSTON, TX - Representatives Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Jesús “Chuy” García (Il-04), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Kweisi Mfume (MD-07) joined by 36 Members of Congress introduced the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Safe Schools Act to provide $17 billion to school districts to pay for PPE, cleaning supplies, technical training, and additional staff support needed to keep students, educators, and communities safe.

As schools prepare to return to in-person classes amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., we must ensure that they have the resources necessary to keep our communities safe. Schools suffered from disinvestment and thin-stretched budgets before COVID-19 and the emergency relief funding in the CARES Act is simply not enough to respond to the scope of financial challenges schools face. The PPE for Safe Schools Act would provide schools with the funds they need to protect students, teachers, and support staff, based on estimated needs including:

  • $8.8 Billion for PPE in schools and school buses;
  • $1.6 Billion for cleaning and health supplies; and
  • $6.6 Billion to fund additional demands on cleaning staff. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected our education system. Whether in-person, remote, or a combination of both, students and teachers have returned to vastly different classrooms this fall in Chicago and around our country. Despite the uncertainty, one thing is clear: students, educators, and support staff returning to in-person classes should not have to worry about risking their own health. That is why we are introducing the PPE for Safe Schools Act,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. “It is simply irresponsible to have our kids return to school without proper safety measures in place. Our teachers, staff, and students need safe schools now.”

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to help keep all of our kids safe and healthy as they return to the classroom during an ongoing pandemic. We must make sure that all students, especially low-income and minority kids, have access to the protective gear we know will keep them safe. We must also make sure that our teachers and all other school staff have what they need to feel secure as they do the critical work of educating our kids during a global health crisis,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia.

“Educating our children through this pandemic is one of the most important tasks and monumental challenges we face in the coming months. While we’ve continually regarded school staff as ‘heroes,’ we have yet to act as if we mean it. Educating our children will be difficult enough without teachers, parents, staff, and students worried about keeping themselves safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19. This bill—to fund PPE and cleaning and health supplies and to address the increased demand on cleaning staff—is a step in the right direction as we strive to provide our children with the best possible education during this crisis. I’m proud to work with Reps. Chuy García, Sylvia Garcia, and Mfume to get this done,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

"We know there are many benefits to in-person learning. Our goal is to prioritize the reopening of schools as safely and quickly as possible. Securing PPE will ensure our schools are equipped to provide a safe environment for both the students and teachers,” said Rep. Kweisi Mfume.

This legislation is endorsed by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the Chicago Teachers Union.

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Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent the Texas 29th Congressional District. She serves on the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees.