As public schools continue their shutdown due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, schools across Hampton Roads and the Peninsula still currently plan to pay employees.
On March 13, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the closure of all Virginia public schools for a two-week period to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, many staff and faculty across school districts are finding themselves without access to their jobs.
In York County School Division, all employees will receive notification from their supervisors in regards to their work expectations during the closure, according to the division’s website. It also states that employees will continue to receive their full pay during the two-week closure.
In Williamsburg James-City County Public Schools, employees will continue to be paid for their contracted hours at their regular rate, said Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for the district, in an email.
However, as the schools continue to pay their employees, districts could also experience a financial impact from the closures.
In an email, Bill Bowen, chief finance officer for YCSD, said the division doesn’t have enough information to determine what the financial impacts will be if there are any.
For example, he said while all employees are going to be paid during the mandated closings, the state will not require districts to make up those days. As a result, the division will actually experience a certain amount of savings because it won’t be accruing addition fuel and utility costs.
He added that the state is adjusting attendance requirements so funding that’s based on average daily enrollments will not be impacted.
“As this situation is continuously evolving, we anticipate receiving more information from the state and federal in regards to budget impacts,” Bowen wrote in the email.
For WJCC, Cox said the Virginia Department of Education also has a contingency plan that will provide recurring payments for Standards of Quality and other direct aid accounts that will continue to be administered to school divisions.
“Financial impacts could change based on any possible extension to the length of the closure,” Cox wrote in an email.
Kellie Goral, spokeswoman for Hampton City Schools, wrote in an email the school district notified staff about their payment status and other operations affected by the mandatory closures.
Full and part-time employees will be paid per their regular contact days and hours, she wrote. However, those who are considered temporary employees will only receive a paycheck for “actual hours” worked.
Temporary employees who worked March 1-15 will receive their paycheck on March 31 and those who work during the March 16-31 timeframe will get their paychecks on April 15.
“As part of its continuity of operations plans, HCS has contingency plans in place to continue payroll operations in the event of disruption to normal operating procedures,” Goral wrote in an email. “HCS will deploy those protocols, if necessary, so that employees are paid on schedule.”
In addition, employees who previously requested off days between March 16-27 would not be charged leave time during the mandatory closure.
Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools, said all contracted employees, including cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodial staff would be paid during the closure.
Buses drivers are currently being used to transport food to other parts of the city, part of the school district’s meals-to-go program.
“For the most part, everyone is doing their best to work from home,” Price said, adding teachers are working remotely and holding virtual offices hours.
Substitute teachers will not be paid during the closures unless they are a long-term substitute filing in for another teacher.
It’s unclear if faculty and staff would have to work additional hours over the summer to make up days for the mandatory closure.
“That’s kinda up in the air right now,” Price said, adding they will wait for guidance from the governor and the state. “We don’t have that information yet.”
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