Lights turned off, signs across doors, websites shut down, phone calls directed straight to voicemail. Amidst the recent COVID-19 outbreak, businesses all around Omaha have closed their doors to the public.
As of Mar. 16, Gov. Pete Ricketts limited public gathering in Nebraska to 10 people, resulting in non-essential businesses* to close their doors.
For some Nebraskans, that means the nightmare of being unemployed has become true, as these businesses cannot afford to pay everyone.
While Nebraska’s most recent unemployment report will not be released until April 17, the national unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% in February to 4.4% in March, which is the highest it has been since August 2017 (Trading Economics).
As COVID-19 continues to progress with case numbers increasing in each state, unemployment is predicted to reach 9% in April and climb to 15% in June (Trading Economics).
This pandemic does not affect our student body as much as it affects the working adults in our community. As more people get laid off and more people are forced to file for unemployment, some are uncertain as to where they will find money to support themselves as well as their families. .
MPS, fortunately, had a plan separating employees into two categories: certificated staff and classified staff.
Certificated staff consists of teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators, etc. who are still expected to perform their duties and are paid based on salary. Classified staff, on the other hand, consists of the secretaries, paras, security staff, etc. who are paid hourly and will be allocated new assignments in order to help MN through remote learning.
Paras have an increasingly hard time as they’ve had to switch from multi focused groups activities to one on one tailored lessons.
“My duties have changed in many ways. Instead of working with 2 to 4 students at a table, I am now meeting for one to one help zoom with the sharing of screens. Depending on the subject, that can be difficult,” Crystal Duncan, Paraprofessional for Special Education said.
Para’s have had to switch from working with students while in classes to attending classes via zoom.
“I have attended the teacher’s zoom meetings with the classes I work in and also I have individual zoom meetings with any student that needs extra help, which makes it easier to not be in school,” Duncan said.
This can be emotionally taxing as it becomes difficult to understand if they are really helping their students.
“There are days that I feel that I am letting down some of the students that I usually help when we are in school. The adjustment was hard at first. I miss the social interaction between students and other staff members,” Duncan said.
While it has been a difficult transition MPS’s measures are intended to keep our district running smoothly and our staff members supported.
“If there was a safe way to go to school, I would love to be back in the building doing my job, talking face to face and hearing the halls filled with students. I miss Millard North and can not wait to get back there on a regular basis,” Duncan said.
*Businesses that are mainly for recreational uses, in which they do not provide healthcare, financial support, utilities, or groceries to the general public. (Business Insider)