With the announcement that Clarke County School District would close for the rest of the month, Sarah Dupuy — like many workers around the country as COVID-19 continues to spread — wasn’t sure what would happen to her source of income.
Dupuy works as a full-time substitute teacher at CCSD and hopes to secure a full teaching job next school year. However, with no need for substitutes right now and a possibility of longer school closures, she’s out of the classroom.
Despite the current online-only teaching model, CCSD said it will continue to pay substitutes and on-call bus monitors and drivers their average weekly pay, meaning the typical amount they work, communications manager Beth Moore said in an email.
Student support technicians, who provide additional social services and assistance to students, will be paid 19 hours a week, whereas high school SSTs will be paid full time.
Regular classified and certified staff will also get their full pay and must be available during normal work hours by internet or phone, Moore said. Teachers must be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for student and parent questions via email.
The announcement was a relief to substitutes, who worried about their situation since they are not considered district employees.
CCSD outsources substitute teachers through a company called ESS, which places substitute teachers, paraprofessionals and other support staff in positions where they are needed in different districts.
In a March 18 email to ESS employees, the company noted that each district would decide whether substitute teachers could continue to be paid amid the closures.
“[CCSD] really doesn’t want us to lose our jobs and go to a different district when schools open,” said Dupuy, who heard rumors substitutes would continue to get paid but faced a week of uncertainty during the first week of the closure.
On March 20, ESS notified CCSD substitutes that they would receive two weeks compensation for March 16-27.
Gov. Brian Kemp ordered all public schools in Georgia to close until the end of the month. It is unclear whether CCSD will remain closed beyond this executive order.
Substitute teacher Felix Bell, who also works in Clarke County through ESS, felt the same uncertainty as Dupuy while waiting for word on whether he would get paid. Though his next few paychecks are secured, he worries about the current teachers.
“Online teachers have no way of being relieved from duty if they are sick or can’t work for some reason,” Bell said. “Teachers go so far above their call.”