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Support Orchard Staff

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PETITION: COVID BONUS for Orchard School Teacher Assistants and Aides

March 19, 2021

On behalf of the Orchard School staff:

As we approach the one year mark of the pandemic, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary performance of the Teacher Assistants and Teacher Aides here at Julia Dyckman Memorial Andrus Orchard School during these crucial times. They have gone above and beyond to ensure the safety and academic success of the students/residents on a daily basis by assisting in remote learning as well as monitoring those residents who have overcome the virus. Although we appreciate the hazard pay that was provided to us at the start of the pandemic; we do believe that as a team we are more than deserving of an increase in compensation.

Throughout this pandemic we have taken on the role of “teachers” for the residents which at times is very overwhelming for us. We were compelled to make sure that each and every child excelled academically no matter the circumstances. As you all are aware we work in a facility where teaching children and keeping them engaged in any form can be challenging at times; so you can only imagine the amount of stress we feel on a daily basis trying to maintain order and structure in the cottage during this time. We have grappled with residents who have contracted COVID 19 and as a result have had to risk our own health, as well as other residents, by sitting in the same vicinity with them because the agency refused to follow the CDC protocol with quarantining the kids for the appropriate amount of time and isolating the sick child from other residents as to not spread the virus.

The challenges we have had to face have been unsafe and careless. In addition a plethora of staff have expressed concern in regards to their mental state of health and have been forced to take time off to regroup as a result of that. As far as remote learning is concerned, it has been challenging working with the residents; especially those hard to manage children who are stagnant about not completing assignments, constantly going into crisis and out of program and causing havoc ( being verbally and physically aggressive) with staff in the cottages. Based on these unfortunate affairs, we as a team have been left feeling unappreciated and dishonored.

I truly hope that some justice comes out of this and that we are compensated fairly. I believe that we have proven ourselves to be more than deserving of something extra for all of our hard work and dedication that we have displayed working for the Orchard School during these crucial times. I am confident that you agree that our diligent work effort should be rewarded and I hereby respectfully ask that you consider a larger monetary reward commensurate with our performance throughout this pandemic. We would be more than thankful if our efforts were greatly recognized.

Kindest Regards,

Your staff at the Orchard School

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