Before Senate Bill 76 passed in spring of 2020, Missouri school districts were responsible for allowing teachers the space to breast pump at school-not the time.
Spanish Teacher Jamie Adamski helped to change that.
In January of 2020, Adamski came back to work from maternity leave.
After returning, however, she said there were extreme scheduling conflicts, which resulted in her working for long stretches of time, (almost four hours).
This posed a problem because as a new mother, Adamski needed time to breast pump around every two hours.
“You have to mimic your baby’s feeding patterns,” Adamski said.
Mickey Erb, Office 108 administrative assistant, said over email, “I had three children while at WGHS. I had nowhere to privately nurse/pump. I was forced to use closets, which people walked in on several times, or even the school records vault. With each child, I wasn’t able to nurse very long after returning to work, and it was heartbreaking.”
Lauren Maedge, who teaches Foods and Nutrition, also shared her experiences. Her second year of teaching, she struggled with balancing being a new mother and teaching. She said there was a lack of support for new mothers.
The need for a nursing closet was apparent after many instances, for example, when Maedge and Erb dealt with getting walked in on while breast pumping. Webster Groves High School now has a closet dedicated to pumping/nursing complete with a comfortable chair and, most importantly: a lock.
For Adamski though, it wasn’t about finding the space. She said the real struggle was finding time in her schedule. Senate Bill 76 changes that by requiring all elementary and secondary schools to provide accommodations for teachers who wish to breast pump. The minimum, as defined by the bill, is three times each school day.
Helping to pass this bill wasn’t easy for Adamski. She took a union day to go to the House of Representatives in Jefferson City to testify. With her help, the bill passed.
About the effects of the bill, Adamski said, “I’m thrilled about it. I think it’s basically all of education, [about] 74% of all educators are female, so to have a guaranteed right to something that our bodies do biologically, is pretty huge.”
School districts across Missouri will have to put the bill into effect by July 1, 2022.