HEALTH

Gov. Cox giving state employees time off to substitute in Utah schools

Jan 31, 2022, 10:34 AM | Updated: 3:13 pm
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Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a press conference about COVID-19 and the omicron variant at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox is issuing an executive order, allowing state employees to take time off to substitute teach in Utah’s schools. 

It can be a public or private school experiencing a shortage of staff. The move is being directly attributed to the spread of the omicron variant creating “an unprecedented wave of absenteeism among teachers and education staff.”

The Governor’s office released this statement along with the announcement:

“We know that kids learn best in the classroom, so we want to do what we can to help schools stay open. Our teachers and our children deserve our support during this difficult phase of the pandemic. We hope many of the state’s 22,000 employees will take advantage of this opportunity to help our schools.”

Michelle Watts with the Utah Human Resources office said employees will be given thirty hours to use in Utah schools this year after they go through the approval process.

“That’s 30 hours that can be used to apply, go through any application processes including training, then, do those volunteer hours at the school,” she said.

State employees will be assigned to the job they are most suited for. An example would be an employee with a CDL license volunteering to work as a bus driver.

“It could include working in the school lunchroom, or if the school needed it could include some support services,” Watts said.

Grateful for the help, more is needed

The Utah Education Association told KSL NewsRadio that they welcome help from Gov. Cox and from Utah state employees, and that deeper issues also need to be addressed. 

Particularly those issues that will attract and retain good teachers.

“We really look to our governor and policymakers and elected school boards to get to the root causes of these issues, so that we make sure that we are attracting (and) retaining the best and the brightest for our classrooms,” said Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews.

“Especially right now, in the crisis that we’re facing in our schools with the pandemic, we have to focus on retention as the best recruitment.”

One specific suggestion Matthews has is for Utah lawmakers to look into ways to give teachers more time to prep for their classes.

 

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Gov. Cox giving state employees time off to substitute in Utah schools