During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines.

Teachers are some of the most important members of their communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. For the last few weeks, we’ve been honoring the hard work done by teachers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“How are our students going to stay safe?” Teachers protest school reopenings by Chris Walker. Without a plan to reopen schools coming from the federal government, state lawmakers across the country are grappling with whether to reopen schools. In some states, coronavirus cases are surging, and lawmakers are moving full steam ahead with reopening schools without consulting the very folks who know the most: teachers. From Arizona to Tennessee teachers are protesting the reopening of schools not for their own wellbeing, but for their students. Angela Skillings, a teacher from Arizona, participated in a protest over Governor Doug Ducey moving ahead with reopening schools without any guidelines. Skillings, who is a coronavirus survivor, said, “My main thing is if we can’t stay safe, how are our students going to stay safe?” 

Back to school PPE drive-by by Briana Aldridge. An educator in Louisiana is stepping up to make sure all students returning to classrooms in a month have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to be protected from the coronavirus. Brandi Clay, a teacher from Lafayette, is using her organization, EdD Series, to gather PPE donations of “masks in both kids and adult sizes, personal sanitizers, and antibacterial wipes,” reports Aldridge for KATC 3. Commenting on her donation drive, Clay said, “As an educator, we want to be on campus. As any principal, they want to see their teachers and their students safe on campus. So, we want to make sure we’re giving them the tools for that to happen.” 

Schools using 3D printers to help COVID-19 workers by Derrick Forsythe. Three media specialists from Warren County, Missouri elementary schools came together in May to produce tension release bands, which are used in PPE by health care workers, with their schools’ 3D printers. Shelby Graves, Jill Burkemper, and Lynn Mueller jumped to action “when a representative from BJC Healthcare reached out to area administrators,” reports Forsythe. Graves, who works for Rebecca Boone Elementary, commented, “As teachers, we’re usually the helpers. Losing that day-to-day interaction with kids can’t be replaced until we get back. This is helpful, though, knowing I’m doing a small part to help those first responders.” 

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!