SAN ANTONIO – With the coronavirus pandemic pushing Bexar County to extend school closures, Southwest Independent School District plans to continue paying its employees.
The school board met Tuesday to pass a resolution that gives the superintendent the power to continue to compensate both hourly and salary employees, including teachers, bus drivers, maintenance workers and others.
“We know that our educators and our employees, they are not in our buildings because they don’t want to be,” said Lloyd Verstuyfd, superintendent. “They are not in our buildings because we are all participating in distancing ourselves in an effort to help the greater good. We may have this interruption in our lives, but it doesn’t mean our employees don’t have other obligations or bills coming in.”
Verstuyfd said that the district’s budget already included payroll for all employees, so paying them will not be an issue. The additional costs will come with the technology they are implementing so children can continue their education from home.
“As this goes on, and we anticipate recommendations, this can go on upward to six to eight weeks, and even longer possibly, but it gives us an opportunity to really hone our skills to use digital opportunities for our students to learn,” Verstuyfd said. “We are standing up curbside food service. We are standing up a low-tech, high-tech instructional delivery that we did not have, so there is some associated costs with those.”
Verstuyfd said although he doesn’t know what the ultimate price tag of the additional costs will be, he does hope to be reimbursed when this pandemic is over.
“I think as long as we make sure that student safety and well-being is always first and foremost, we can work through the rest of it,” Verstuyfd said. “I really want to commend all school communities with the work we have all done. We are in a different time and definitely this is something we haven’t done before. It will require us being patient and will require us to support each other. We have to be overly communicative with our family and friends. I want to wish everyone well, and I think we will come out bigger and stronger than ever after this is all over.”
The resolution also states should any employee have to physically be called into work, they will be paid time and a half for their duties.
SWISD expects to be closed through April 3.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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