Teachers union demands congressional action on emergency COVID-19 funding for schools

School District of Philadelphia
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio, file
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — On the first day of school in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney joined community and union leaders in calling for more emergency COVID-19 funding for schools. 

Standing in front of Lowell Elementary School in Olney, elected officials and teachers union representatives delivered a clear message: They want the HEROES Act passed.

The HEROES Act — Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — would provide funding for cities and school districts whose revenues have been hammered by the pandemic. 

Kenney said the House has already passed the bill, but there’s been no action in the Senate.

“As Congress remains stalled, unable to reach an agreement on the next round of COVID relief, cities like ours wait desperately for much-needed direct and flexible aid,” he said.

American Federation of Teachers national President Randi Weingarten was more animated in her plea to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Why are Black and brown communities less of a priority than Wall Street?” she asked. “Why has the HEROES bill sat in the Senate for 100 days? We need this funding!”

The event was part of the union’s National Day of Action to demand passage of the HEROES Act.

Amid the call to action, the School District of Philadelphia was met with complaints of online activity on its first day of school. It said servers have been running slowly because of the crush of first-day activity. District spokesperson Monica Lewis said technicians are working to resolve the issue. 

“The server issues are issues that we will be working around the clock to resolve,” added Superintendent William Hite. “That issue should improve tomorrow.”

Any student who could not log on will not be marked absent for the day.

“We will not be counting students absent if there are extenuating circumstances, and it is an extenuating circumstance code if, in fact, you could not log on,” said Hite.