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A Preschool Teacher Ponders Risk Of Returning To Work While Being Paid Less Than Unemployment


Morse has considered working temporarily as a nanny, where at least she could limit her exposure to a single family.

For now, she’s staying home, grateful for the extra $600 a week in unemployment insurance that the federal government is offering during the pandemic.

“Without that, our family would not be making it right now,” she says.

Because preschool teachers are “chronically underpaid,” Morse says, unemployment benefits add up to about $500 a month more than she made when she was working.

“That’s two weeks of groceries,” she says. And that complicates the idea of going back to work in close quarters with small children.

“Part of your job as a preschool teacher is love and affection,” Morse says. “It’s hard to think about going back to work in this pandemic and getting paid less than we are right now when we’re safe and at home and in quarantine.”

Morse and her husband — an elementary school teacher — have put off making mortgage payments for the last couple of months, banking the money in case she loses her jobless benefits.

“It’s just such an uncertain time,” says Morse, who has a master’s degree in early childhood education. “Child care is something that everyone always needs, so it felt like a really secure occupation, until recently.”

Read more stories in Faces of the Coronavirus Recession.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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