As the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to increase, it is essential that our Oklahoma education community continue to innovate and find solutions. Many districts have already implemented novel ways to address the extended school closure and ensure students, teachers, and communities are still connected and still learning.

However, as we face these challenges head on, it is important that we remember all of our education community members. At this very moment, most of our school support personnel find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. They are not allowed to report to their physical school sites to perform their normal duties. As such, many support personnel are finding themselves without a single paycheck to help them through this arduous time.

Yet, some school districts have already stepped-up and overcome this challenge. Tulsa School Board, for example, unanimously voted on Monday, March 23 rd to secure payment for all support personnel for the duration of the extended school closure. Under current Oklahoma statute, teachers and administrators are entitled to full payment in the event that schools are closed due to an epidemic or pandemic emergency. District officials explained that the policy adopted by the Tulsa School Board affords support personnel the same emergency leave measures as their teacher and administrator colleagues.

We encourage all school boards in Oklahoma, as well as the State Legislature in a statutory
capacity, to adopt and enact similar policies to ensure that all support personnel receive their
paychecks during this time. We request that this action include pay for support personnel from March 17 — when the school closure went into effect — through April 6, as well as through the remainder of the academic year as we transition to the ‘Continuous Learning Plan.’

Even under difficult circumstances, we must continue to support and care for all members of
our communities. We must not forget about our support personnel and their families.

Ginger Tinney
Executive Director
Professional Oklahoma Educators