Gov. Cox allows state employees time off to substitute teach in local schools

Jan 31, 2022, 10:41 AM | Updated: 8:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order Monday allowing state employees to take approved leave from work to substitute teach or fill other needed positions in Utah schools, according to a release.

Citing large staffing gaps due to the surge in omicron COVID-19 cases, Cox said giving state employees the option to substitute teach, help in the cafeteria, or perform other duties as needed, will ensure that schools can continue to provide in-person learning experiences.

“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,” Cox said. “We hope many of the state’s 22,000 employees will take advantage of this opportunity to help our schools.”

“I think it will definitely help,” Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews said about the executive order.

Matthews said there is still the longer-term issue of attracting and retaining teachers in Utah’s classrooms.

“We didn’t get into this situation overnight,” Matthews said. “We had a teacher shortage and an educator shortage and a sub shortage before the pandemic, and so we cannot expect to get out of it overnight or with just simple solutions. We have to be looking longer term.”

Granite School District said it had more than 3,000 requests for substitutes in January.

“Even if just a handful of folks come and support our schools and help with these staffing shortages, that’s going to make a huge difference,” said Ben Horsley, spokesperson for the Granite School District.

Horsley said the district is struggling to cover for missing teachers and that fellow teachers often have to fill in.

“Their planning and prep time has been sucked up by going and helping fill vacancies in other classrooms,” he said of the district’s teachers. 

Executive Order 2022-02 states employees will be granted up to 30 hours of paid administrative leave in order to help with staffing in public or private schools from now until the end of June 2022.

The order states, “State employees who choose to participate must go through a district or school hiring process which includes passing a background check, according to state law. Employees will qualify for both state pay as well as compensation from the school district for their time.”

More information about the qualifications to work in schools here.

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Gov. Cox allows state employees time off to substitute teach in local schools