Substitute teacher "taken aback" after employer's response over extended school closure

Posted at 11:37 PM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 07:07:52-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Maggie Douglas is a substitute teacher in the Hampton City Schools Division, employed by a private company called Education Solution Services that provides educational resources, such as substitute teachers, to the school division.

News 3 introduced you to Douglas on March 14, a day after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam first declared all K through 12 schools in the Commonwealth be closed for two weeks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The original announcement came before Northam declared schools to be closed for the rest of the school year.

Douglas explained how after the declaration, she's trying to make ends meet after being left without a job and without pay.

Since the first announcement, Douglas said her employer has not done much to help them. She said in an email, ESS told them to file for government unemployment benefits.

"It said, 'If you're unemployed, if you're out of school right now, we know these are difficult times, you should collect state unemployment office,'" Douglas said.

She said she did not expect ESS to do much to help them, but was "taken aback" over the company's response. The email also said to check in with the company for other employment opportunities within the company. In the meantime, she said she followed the email's instructions.

"I was wondering if I'd even get unemployment," Douglas said. "I felt kind of weird applying because I haven't lost my job, but I do have a reduction in hours. If I get something then great, but if I don't then that's OK too."

Her husband is still working, but said their combined income will not be enough. That is why they had to make some changes.

"We eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, not going to lie," Douglas explained. "Meat is hard to find and expensive, and the Commissary is virtually empty of anything."

Douglas said there's also a silver lining -- their utility companies and creditors offered to help them.

"We can't just pay a bill when it comes in like we we used to," she said. "So they've all worked with me really well. They've set up payment plans, they've said that's no problem."

The free time also allows her to complete chores around the house, both inside and outside such as gardening. Douglas is still considering other options, such as answering help wanted signs inside stores.

There is one thing she said she's upset about, and that's not working with her students and the teachers.

"It's going to be sad not getting to say goodbye to the eighth graders that I won't see again. I miss the teachers, that was my little friend group, we're our own little family at the two schools that I work at so I kept in touch with them on social media."

News 3 reached out to ESS over the last two weeks since the original story but has not heard back.