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Weekly Updates

Wittman’s Weekly: Working for Students, Teachers, and Working Families

Teachers hold a special place in my heart: my mom was a teacher and my wife, Kathryn, is also a teacher. Their presence in my life has given me a deep understanding of the importance teachers play in the lives of our children. In this age of online classrooms and virtual learning, I have seen teachers work with great patience to educate young children through a computer screen, a task that we can all admit is not easy. Similarly, I have heard from folks as I meet with them across our region about the difficulties of accessing childcare services as they return to work. 

As students return to daycare or school this fall, whether in person or in a new setting at home, the opportunity has never been greater to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff, and their families.

As working parents return to the office, job site, or are working in a new setting altogether, we have the opportunity to provide even greater resources and protections for them in this new era of the modern workforce.

During this challenging back-to-school and back-to-work season I am committed to supporting students, teachers, and caregivers to ensure they have the tools to be safe and successful. That is why I was proud to support and advance several bills in the House of Representatives this month to help students, childcare workers, educators, parents, and more:

  • H.R. 7909, the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020 would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide technical assistance to states and tribes regarding the provision of child care services during times of community transmission of COVID19. The legislation would also create grants to state and tribal agencies in charge of child care to provide technical assistance and guidance to individual child care providers.
  • S. 2683, the Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2020, would create an Interagency Task Force for Child Safety to identify, evaluate, and recommend best practices and to provide technical assistance to federal and state agencies seeking to implement the criminal background check requirements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.
  • H.R. 8162, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 would express the sense of Congress that, for the 2021-2021 school year, the Secretary of Education should waive certain restrictions on Community Learning Centers (CLCs) so that they can provide services during traditional school hours and provide in-person care to students who are not receiving full-time, in-person instruction.
  • H.R 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would create a stand-alone law that requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • H.R. 4979, the Rural STEM Education Act would authorize the National Science Foundation to award grants for research to improve rural students' access to and participation in STEM fields. It would also direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to carry out a prize competition for ideas to deploy broadband connectivity to rural communities.

Schools and daycares provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, they employ teachers and other staff, and they enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. I was proud to support students, educators, and working families this month as I worked for you in Washington. As we move forward on our long road to economic and societal recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, I will continue to stand with the hardworking Virginians and their families who call our region home.