Stitt issues executive order to allow schools to pay support staff during pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – While many leaders are focused on small businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Kevin Stitt says he issued an executive order to help support staff at local schools.

On Thursday, Stitt signed an executive order to ensure support staff at Oklahoma public schools can be paid for the remainder of their contract despite school buildings being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order waives any statutory or rule-based limitations on which support staff can accumulate or receive leave for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“It is important to me that our local school boards have the authority to fulfill support staff contracts and pay their employees while their buildings are closed,” said Gov. Stitt.

In all, officials say nearly 41,000 support staffers are affected by this.

“This remedy was urgently needed. I thank Gov. Stitt for taking this action to ensure certainty for the cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, teachers’ assistants and so many others whose work is critical to our schools,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said. “This executive order helps bring a measure of comfort and stability to these valued workers and their families and ensures our focus remains on public health and instruction through distance learning during this unprecedented crisis.”

Under state statute, district teachers and administrators were able to continue receiving compensation after the State Board of Education voted March 16 to close schools until April 6. The same protections, however, are not automatically provided to school support staff.

Many districts gave their support staffers emergency leave days so they could be paid over the two weeks that schools were shut after spring break.

Now, the executive order authorizes that support staff can continue to receive compensation through the remainder of the fiscal year and maintain insurance benefits while earning credit toward retirement.

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