There is nothing more important than our families’ health. But our country needs to live up to its family values.

Did you know that even before the pandemic, one in four new moms is forced to return to work within two weeks of giving birth? That’s heartbreaking and insane!

I am the proud mother of a 6-week-old, and I have been lucky that I can teach from home — but if we weren’t working from home, I would be in the same boat. And as a teacher, I have seen firsthand when colleagues have to choose between their paycheck and staying home with a sick child or even to take care of themselves.

I always felt lucky that I didn’t have to deal with that difficult decision, but now I am terrified.

Every year I have gotten sick from students who have to come to school because their parents don’t have time off to stay home with them. That makes me even more worried for my daughter — what if I bring something home to her?

With states and businesses reopening, we need paid leave to make reopening safer for our communities and our families so that people can stay home when they’re sick or caring for a loved one.

If we really are a country that values family, then we have to have public policies that support working families. We want U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to know that the time for paid family leave is now.

Mary Bissell

Rio Rancho