“Did you know that Virginia businesses are not actually required to provide paid sick leave to all their employees?

While schools are being as cautious as possible to keep infections at bay, they can only succeed if everyone is on board. So when businesses across Virginia don’t offer paid sick leave, they keep the risk of infection high for parents, who in turn can spread COVID to their children, and down the line until it reaches schools.

Some students in high school, like where I teach, are forced to work based on their home living situations. Several students that I have taught have been the “breadwinners” for their family at only the age of seventeen. These students cannot afford taking off from their jobs because that would ultimately affect their entire family. This is the case for other employees that my students work with due to the lack of paid leave in many businesses across Virginia. This ultimately spreads it to the students working with those employees, who then bring illnesses back to our schools.

In the midst of a pandemic, this is a recipe for disaster; and teachers know this better than anyone as we typically find out every normal flu season. As workers in a space that is at constant risk of a COVID outbreak, teachers understand how bad this pandemic can get, and the risks that schools and children face.

Right now, Virginia employers are not required to provide paid sick leave to all employees, and the state legislature continues to debate the need for an earned sick day policy. Because of this, more than 1.2 million Virginians face the impossible decision between a paycheck and their health on a daily basis.

Business owners all across Virginia should adopt sick day policies to keep their workplaces free from illnesses without the fear of losing pay to support their families. We will then be able to reopen schools to provide a safe in-person learning environment for all students.”