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Update on the Coronavirus Situation, Distance Learning, and Returning to Work
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Update on the Coronavirus Situation, Distance Learning, and Returning to Work

USEP Update – Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hello members, this is Don Peace, USEP President, bringing you the latest information from our conference call with the District last evening. Late yesterday afternoon, you should have received an email from the District Communications Department. Please make sure you look over it, as is contains some very important information regarding returning to work.

The three primary concerns of this organization since the COVID-19 outbreak hit our area have been to ensure employee health and safety while performing their jobs, to see that all employees suffer no financial hardship due to lost wages, and to enhance the education opportunity for our students in the best, most responsible, and safest manner possible.

Toward those goals, we are able to tell you that after much conversation with senior District staff, all regular full and part-time employees will be paid through the end of the year. This is a huge step forward in reassuring members financial stability during these otherwise uncertain times. There is also no current talk of any job reduction.

Also, additional news from the Department of Education came out yesterday that they will waive the teacher evaluation process for this year. No summative evaluations will be issued for teachers. Since the Best & Brightest program was suspended, this will not have any impact on salaries for the next year. This suspension of evaluations is for Instructional only, and does not pertain to Administrators, NNB, or SRP. Naturally, this waiver doesn’t change any behavioral or performance expectations for employees or alter anything already in place regarding staff behavior or performance plans.

The letter also references groups of employees that are expected to return to work today, March 25. The training on Friday, March 27, 2020, is for all instructional staff, classroom and non-classroom as well. Only those employees participating in the distance learning training on this date will be eligible for the emergency pay for the 4 hours. If you are unable to attend this virtual training on Friday, it will be available on Monday, March 30, 2020, and after, but without the additional pay. Any employees specifically assigned to work the week of March 23 – 27, 2020 (this week), will be paid regular wages plus the additional emergency compensation at your hourly rate.

Monday, March 30, 2020, will be a teacher planning day (virtually) with all student grades to be entered by the end of the day April 2, 2020. Tuesday, March 31, 2020, is the return of students to distance learning. Please understand that people – employees, students, and parents – are going to be all over the place with technological experience and will need a calm reassurance from their teacher that things will work out.

As for the 8AM – 8PM situation, the expectation is not that you work a 12 hour day, but that you are able to meet the concerns of students and/or parents who may have questions or concerns. If you email them back in a timely manner or set up a time for them to be able to confer with you, things should be fine. Perhaps you could work with a colleague to determine if someone could be available early or late. The idea is for families that have multiple students or limited online capabilities get served in an efficient manner. Let’s try to work toward that end.

All other employee groups will be notified as to when to return to work. Since you are being paid, you are on stand-by status and must be available to report when asked. You will be notified in a timely manner of the expected reporting date. In the meantime, if sign-ups for work opportunities arise, please take advantage of them as USEP encourages your participation. The primary focus for the next week is to get the distance learning up and running, so some support staff will not be directly involved. Please understand, there may be some people affected slightly differently than others as this is a new and unique situation for all of us. Please be patient and understanding.

At USEP, it is our goal to support our members as best we can during a most trying time. This is new for both the District and us, and compromise is inevitable moving forward. Thank you for understanding and thank you for your support of USEP.

Together – We’ve Got This!

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If you are an employee of Pasco County Schools and not already a member of USEP, consider joining today! Members are eligible for a wide range of benefits through our affiliates and benefit partners. USEP also provides members with professional development opportunities and representation for member issues.