Lawmakers and government officials have faced many issues and challenges over these last couple of months. But two of the more pressing problems as far as state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) is concerned are the troubles with the state unemployment system and the question of how to educate our children and young people this fall.
Perhaps the most frustrating issue so far has been with unemployment.
“That has been something that we have really tried to step up to the plate in our district. Unfortunately I can’t go into the computers in Harrisburg and fix some of the problems that people have faced,” Schwank told me on a visit to her district office just outside of Reading. “We have staff dedicated, that have worked really 24-7 practically trying to assist people that have contacted us that have not received their payments or have gotten some payments and then they stop. There have been so many problems. The Department of Labor & Industry was simply overwhelmed by the number of people when we’re talking about 40% or 20% on the state level and even higher here.”
Sen. Schwank says she has been also busy working on the schooling issue. That is not settled either.
“We’ve been talking with superintendents, talking with teachers and parents about their concerns,” Schwank said. “There’s no clear-cut answer and there’s no really good answer because everybody faces different issues but if there is one issue regarding the pandemic that I think is so important, it is how we get our children back to being educated, whether it is virtually or whether it is in person, or a hybrid model of some sort. We can not afford to let children slip through the cracks and not get the education that they need. You don’t get any do-overs in childhood. Your education every year builds on the previous year.”
The senator says she’s not sure when they will be back in session in Harrisburg, maybe early or late September. She pointed out that they were in session almost immediately after the pandemic started.