Coronavirus: Valley substitute teachers forced to file for unemployment

One of Governor Gavin Newsom's executive orders related to the coronavirus provides state funding to school districts so that they can continue to pay their employees during school closures.

But thousands of substitute teachers have been left without a job or pay.

So substitutes, like many American workers, have no choice but to file for unemployment insurance.

Jade Munoz was a substitute teacher for Madera County Superintendent of Schools and Madera Unified School District.

But when the districts closed earlier this month, Munoz suddenly became unemployed.

"I got really emotional about it," Munoz said. "I cried a little bit because you know, I have a car payment. I have bills that I have to pay."

With little direction from the districts, and not even knowing if she would be eligible for benefits, Munoz filed for unemployment insurance.

She has started receiving benefits, but Munoz says the money is just a fraction of what she made before.

Amanda Nelson and her sister, both Sanger Unified substitutes, have also filed for unemployment.

But they're still waiting to hear back from the state.

"It's anxiety-provoking," Nelson said. "I've lost sleep over it. It's just worrying going day to day to day not knowing what is going on, not having information. It worries me to no end."

Substitute teachers often move from one classroom to the next.

Many, like Nelson and Munoz, are students themselves, pursuing more stable careers in the field of education.

But now, they've essentially been laid off.

And like many other Americans, they could use a little help.

"I mean we step in for teachers and have to teach their whole lessons," Munoz said. "So I don't think people are understanding how bad this is affecting us, even though we give back to our community within the schools."

California's Employment Development Department released this statement to Action News.

Depending on their specific employment circumstances substitute teachers may qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Claims amounts are calculated based on income and the benefit calculation process does not differ for one job vs. another (substitute vs. full-time). Please refer to the UI Eligibility Requirements webpage for more detailed information on that process.

EDD encourages any California Worker who has lost work or had their hours reduced through no fault of their own to apply for UI and indicate on their application what company they worked for. The EDD will investigate further when a claim is filed, or after the individual receives their claim filing notice, and, if found eligible, the worker will receive benefit payments.

If you are self-employed and unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for UI benefits under a few different scenarios:

You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits.

Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5 to 18 months.

You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

EDD also encourages any California Worker who has lost work or had their hours reduced through no fault of their own to apply for UI and indicate on their application what company they worked for. The EDD will investigate further when a claim is filed, or after the individual receives their claim filing notice, and, if found eligible, the worker will receive benefit payments.

Also please see EDD's COVID-19 FAQs COVID-19 information webpage,

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.