Schools closed until April 28, all staff will be paid

LINCOLN COUNTY — The Lincoln County School District (LCSD) confirmed it will pay all regular employees during a coronavirus-related closure, which has now been extended to six weeks.

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered the closure of state K-12 schools until April 28. The announcement followed an initial order issued last week that closed schools through the end of March.

Brown said, “I do not take the decision to extend school closures lightly. This will have real impacts on Oregon’s students, parents, and educators. But we must act now to flatten the curve and slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission in Oregon, otherwise we face a higher strain on our medical system and greater loss of life to this disease.”

The governor’s order was accompanied by additional guidance for school districts, directing them to provide learning supports and supplemental services to students and families during the closure period, including meals and child care.

The order also said all regular employees were to be paid through the closure. LCSD sent out an email earlier this week, prior to the extended closure, to inform classified employees — mostly consisting of clerical, non-teaching support staff — that they would need to take personal or vacation leave in order to be paid or take leave without pay for days missed from March 16 to 20, in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.

The district confirmed Wednesday morning that all employees will now be paid for the duration of the school closure. Superintendent Karen Gray wrote in a statement posted to the LCSD website, “We will provide information to all employees about uninterrupted salary and benefits as all employees of public schools will continue to be regularly paid.”

Gray said the district was still awaiting guidance regarding graduation and dual-enrollment credits.

“We will probably be crafting individual graduation plans with students and families in order to get our students through this,” the superintendent wrote in a subsequent statement released Wednesday. “We will be implementing a Supplemental Learning Plan. This is a way for us to make sure that our students maintain both their academic skills and their communication connections with LCSD staff. There will be a combination of computer-based learning options and paper and pencil options. This work will not be graded. It is meant to keep education going with our children until school returns to normal.”

The superintendent also announced that the district would continue serving meals to students for the first two days of spring break, March 23 and 24.

On Thursday morning, the governor announced another executive order, this one regarding higher education institutions. The order directs those institutions to move all curriculum to online learning and prohibits classroom interactions through April 28. It also limits on-campus operations to critical functions, such as dining services and dormitories.