In meetings rife with signs of the times – few or no attendees, those present seated feet apart, and abbreviated agendas – trustees representing some of San Antonio’s largest school districts met this week to reassure district staff and extend pay through coronavirus closures.

The school boards of San Antonio, Southwest, Northside, Judson, North East, and South San independent school districts all passed resolutions this week that would give special powers to district superintendents to adapt to coronavirus, including the authority to continue pay for employees through coronavirus closures.

District leaders announced Tuesday that campuses would be closed through April 3 and that online learning would begin in place of in-person classes. Districts are still rolling out plans for remote learning opportunities, giving students resources to learn both online and with lower-tech paper packets.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has told superintendents around the state that as long as districts can attest students are still learning, school districts will still receive state funding. This allows already budgeted payroll costs to continue being funded, several superintendents said.

San Antonio ISD trustees met Tuesday night and voted to continue paying all full-time district employees, including bus drivers, kitchen staff, and teachers, their regular pay rate.

Martinez noted that teachers and other employees will still have obligations to meet while working from home – they must be available to meet within a certain window of time after being contacted by a supervisor and open to communications with students and other district staff.

“We are going to be sending a notice to all employees that during this time they are getting paid. They have to be available and accessible, and we are very detailed,” Martinez said. “Everybody is available for a phone call at any time. It is just like you are on call like if you are a doctor. That is required for every single employee. That is covered as part of this pay.”

The district is still working through how to pay substitute teachers, Martinez said.

Southwest ISD trustees met the same night as the SAISD board and passed a resolution giving Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft the power to continue paying hourly and salary employees through the closure.

Northside ISD board members met Wednesday and passed a resolution awarding Superintendent Brian Woods the authority to continue compensation for all staff.

The district sent an email to staff Thursday, reiterating that employees will continue to be paid whether they are working on campus, from home, or in a holding pattern, a Northside AFT Facebook post said.

On Thursday night, Judson ISD trustees passed a resolution that allows all employees to be paid for the days the district is closed from coronavirus. The resolution states that continuing pay helps to maintain morale, provide equity between “idled employees and employees who provide emergency-related services,” and recognize the services of essential staff.

“In passing this resolution, I don’t want anyone to worry about their paycheck and their livelihood,” Superintendent Jeanette Ball said. “We are asking people to stay home, to stay home because that is important, and that is the only way we are going to be able to fight this.”

On Friday morning, North East ISD trustees – minus trustee Omar Leos, who was self-quarantining after traveling abroad – met to authorize Superintendent Sean Maika to continue employee pay through coronavirus closures. The resolution also gave Maika the authority to approve purchases to address needs brought up by coronavirus.

Maika said NEISD would continue to pay bus drivers and bus aides, emphasizing the district wants to provide stability for employees.

“This includes all our employees,” Maika said. “We are committed to making certain to take care of our folks.”

Substitute teacher pay in NEISD will be determined by the human resources department with more details to come, district officials said.

South San Antonio ISD trustees also held an emergency meeting Friday morning via video conference to permit the district to continue paying employees during the closure. The resolution covers all regular employees, contractual and non-contractual, salaried and non-salaried, and full- or part-time.

Officials with Alamo Heights and Edgewood ISDs indicated their boards would meet next week to consider similar resolutions.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.