Schenectady teachers discuss pandemic’s challenges as union president visits

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SCHENECTADY – Nearly two years into this pandemic, and our Capital Region teachers continue to deal with unprecedented challenges.
Teachers at Schenectady High School got a chance on Wednesday to share how they’re doing with Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

She visited Schenectady High and Hamilton Elementary School Wednesday, as part of her visits to at least two schools a week.

The key message the teachers had for her is that they are tired.

"The educators in this city, in Schenectady, are amazing, and they are doing amazing work in horrible circumstances," said Weingarten.

The national union, meeting with the state and local one – hearing directly from teachers here – that they are tired.

"Kids’ attendance is down related to the pandemic, and teachers are doing everything they can to not only make up for the kids who are unable to attend regularly, but cover for each other," said Juliet Benaquisto, with the Schenectady Federation of Teachers.

One idea for help is to put the call out for more teachers to apply for jobs.

"The more that we can do to encourage people to go into working in schools, to be subs, to enter the profession, the better. That is the push that we are making right now," said Melinda Person with NYSUT.

The Schenectady school superintendent says they have managed to avoid shutting down at all this year, due to COVID.