Senator Feltes Announces “Live Free and Learn Safe” Education Plan for a Safe Return to New Hampshire Schools
Concord, NH — Today at a press conference, Senator Feltes announced his “Live Free and Learn Safe” education plan that calls for a comprehensive approach to reopening schools that prioritizes safety and support for local school districts. Senator Feltes was joined by Ned Helms, the former Health and Human Services Commissioner, Emma Sisti, a Concord school district parent, and Sue Hannon, a local Manchester teacher and President of the Manchester Education Association.
The “Live Free and Learn Safe” plan was issued following Governor Sununu’s lack of a plan and decision to punt COVID-19 safety goals to local school districts while declining to provide state financial support. Senator Feltes’s plan would provide state-wide guidance for school districts in need of public health expertise and would supply local schools with the state resources they need to meet public health goals while maintaining the latitude for individual districts to tailor the plan to their specific situation.
Specifically, the plan would provide: a census on students, educators, educational support staff, and bus drivers to determine baseline in-person numbers, a state review and enhancement of all buildings for air quality and social distancing capabilities, medical-grade PPE for educators and educational support staff, free on-site COVID-19 testing for educators and educational support staff, five cloth masks for all students, clear guidance on meals and transportation, statewide job protections for teachers that prefer remote learning, mandated masks for middle and high school students and staff, real financial support for schools, clear steps in the event of a COVID case, standing up the children’s mobile crisis unit, and more. You can read the full plan here. You can watch a live stream of the press conference here.
Senator Feltes released the following statement:
“At a time when our schools need our help the most, Governor Sununu has not met the moment. Under his school reopening plan, ‘flexibility’ replaces responsibility, and already underfunded school districts are left behind without resources or guidance to protect their students and staff. At the height of a pandemic, we need leadership that’s unafraid to make tough decisions, and unwilling to play politics when public health is on the line. We need a “Live Free and Learn Safe” plan, to finally take responsibility to protect our educators and students and give them the resources they need to protect our students, our educators, and our communities.”
Here are highlighted quotes from today’s press conference:
Ned Helms, former Health and Human Services Commissioner:
“From the bus driver who picks up the kids in the morning to the people who clean that school to the folks that are going to give our kids nutrition for their bodies as well as nutrition for their minds, they have to be protected, they have to be supported, and that’s not something we handoff and hope it all goes well district by district. They know their community but we have to know the direction. This plan does that. This is a critically important document…This is welcome guidance. It’s the type of thing that a governor who wants to lead should do.”
Sue Hannon, Manchester teacher and President of the Manchester Education Association:
“The most important factor here is the health and safety of our students and staff. We’re entering this extremely underfunded already, and are looking at costs that could seriously damage school district budgets as they’re left to buy personal protective equipment for the entire staff, and student population, for every school day; purchase CDC-recommended cleaning supplies; upgrade HVAC systems, and increase technology exponentially… We need our state government to step up and provide services and resources. Educators need to feel that they are backed by their district and the state in case they contract COVID-19 from the school setting… Dan’s plan works for all of these situations.”
Emma Sisti, Concord School District parent of a high-risk child:
“The current plan that the Governor has put out does not provide any guidance and has not helped my district develop a plan that can be implemented to keep my children safe and educated in their classroom. Dan’s plan does that. It is concrete, it has guideposts, and it takes into consideration different districts’ needs and different areas needs, while also providing guidance and structure.”
About Senator Feltes: Dan is a former legal aid attorney for New Hampshire Legal Assistance where he spent almost a decade representing low-middle income Granite State families, seniors, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. During the Great Recession, Senator Feltes represented families crushed by job loss, seeking unemployment insurance, homeowners across New Hampshire facing foreclosure from big Wall Street banks, and people of all ages needing access to quality, affordable health care. Dan is now in his third term as a State Senator from District 15 representing the towns of Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton, and Warner. He is the youngest majority leader in New Hampshire history. Dan lives in Concord with his wife Erin and two young daughters Iris and Josie. Dan led the effort to expand access to health care to 50,000 Granite Staters through Medicaid Expansion, protected people with pre-existing conditions as the prime sponsor of SB 4, fought for paid family and medical leave as the prime sponsor of SB 1, helped secure historic investments in public safety, public health, and public education in the last budget, including finally doing full-day kindergarten. Dan has received numerous legislative awards for his bipartisan work on critical issues.