KING COUNTY, Wash. - Local art teacher Elaine Simons adapted as best she could at the onset of the pandemic.
She started teaching art virtually, using the makeshift art studio in her home. She even wrote a grant called "Art in the time of Covid" that supplied a bag of art materials and tools to her students.
"When I teach my student they will see me mixing the paint and creating the same artwork," said Simons. "I was able to get art packets similar to this and it was full of art supplies."
Unfortunately, at the end of the 2019-20 school year, her contract was not extended. She started filing for unemployment while trying to pick up substitute teaching and other temporary jobs when she could.
"It was kind of like a wakeup call like, now what do I do?" said Simons. "It’s not easy, and I spend hours looking at all these different ways. Looking at refinancing. Looking at downsizing. Trying to figure out what are some of the best ways to be able to make sure I stay alive and be ready to go back into the workforce when I can."
President Trump signed the pandemic relief package Sunday night, which averted a government shutdown come Tuesday and extended billions of dollars in coronavirus aid. It includes a $600 stimulus payment to most Americans earning less than $75,000, and weekly $300 enhanced unemployment insurance.
"I think the $600 should go back to at least $1,200. I think the unemployment should go to people on unemployment, so we’re still on livable wage, but I think it should also go up to minimum wage folks," said Simons.
Although President Trump has signed the bill, he’s still pushing for the $600 payments to be increased to $2,000 for each individual.
The House will vote on a bill to amend the payments to $2,000 on Monday.