School districts limit staffing

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Most teachers not reporting during COVID-19 wellness break

Local school districts on wellness break through April 3 do not have students in the buildings, and they are limiting the number of staff on-site, as well.

Russ Moreland, Monett superintendent, said for now, building offices are taking calls from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with administration and assistants reporting.

Custodial staff and maintenance crews are also reporting to disinfect and clean facilities. Food service employees are also preparing breakfasts and lunches.

“We are asking teachers to provide supplemental resources and materials,” Moreland said. “We are speeding up the process of virtual instruction.”

Moreland said Monett is continuing to pay its hourly employees, and there is a plan in the works to offer daycare for healthcare providers and essential workers using the district’s paraprofessionals.

“[Either way], we plan to continue to pay hourly employees as if they are here,” Moreland said.

Kelli Alumbaugh, Pierce City superintendent, said she, administrators and secretaries are reporting, and custodial staff is on-site cleaning buildings.

“Day to day, as time goes on, we will dwindle down to just myself and secretaries reporting,” she said. “Teachers have been allowed to come in, but as of Friday, we started limiting that as much as possible.”

Alumbaugh said the district is hoping to keep the building empty and opt for more virtual instruction staff can do from home.

The school board met on Monday and voted to continue paying hourly employees throughout the wellness break, planning to reassess if the district stays closed longer than April 3.

“I urge all to follow the governor’s and health department’s recommendations and stay at home as much as possible,” Alumbaugh said. “We all need to do our part to slow the spread [of the virus].”

In Verona, Superintendent Tony Simmons said staff are reporting on a rotational schedule aimed at allowing people to work but keeping distance among those on-site.

“Certified staff is reporting one day per week so there are not too many people in the building at one time,” he said. “They are also asked to stay in their rooms as much as possible while they work. Classified staff is working a modified schedule so they can stay away from one another but still work.”

Simmons said teachers are working on Google Classroom and other platforms to deliver virtual instruction.

As far as hourly staff, Simmons said he could not guarantee payment as normal until he knew the state would still fund the school as normal.

“My understanding is we will get funding, but I have not seen it in black and white,” he said.

Verona also has a school board meeting on Tuesday night.

At Purdy, maintenance and custodial staff are on hand, as well as food service, office staff and administration.

“Teachers are not coming in and have been asked to stay home during the break,” said Mindi Gates, Purdy superintendent. “We do have our AmeriCorp reading group reporting, but they are helping with meals as part of their volunteer requirements.”

Gates said she plans to start asking employees to come back in to prepare for students’ return. She said Purdy is also continuing to pay employees as if they are there.

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