FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As schools plan to reopen virtually, non-teaching staff members wonder what the future holds for their positions.
Carmen Alessandro has worked for the State Center Community College District for over 30 years. She currently serves as a district enrollment coordinator and is considered classified staff.
"Classified staff are the heart and soul of the districts, and we've been working from day one and have continued working through the shelter-in-place for all the school districts," said Alessandro.
When COVID-19 forced schools to close their doors, she kept working along with her peers.
"All that work still needed to continue, and the jobs are vital for our district, so there wasn't really concern about losing jobs; in fact, it seems like we need more positions," said Alessandro.
Even without students in the classroom, classified staff members are protected for the entire budget year.
"We are the people that make the school districts run, but we have those types of jobs that aren't expected every day," said California School Employees Association (CSEA) President, Ben Valdepena.
The job positions held by classified employees include custodians, food services, and transportation jobs.
"My union represents 250,000 classified employees across the state in over 700 districts, and each of those people those districts would collapse if those essential employees weren't there," added Valdepena.
Jobs will look a bit different this year, but they'll still be there. Bus drivers may be transporting food or providing Wi-Fi hotspots. Custodians will be cleaning for staff who are still at the schools.
"When they're gone, someone's going to have to clean that office for them," explained Valdepena. "We are the behind the scenes people, but the school would not work without us."