SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Speaker Brad Wilson says he’s ‘disappointed’ in the Salt Lake City School Board vote Tuesday night to delay in-person instruction until all teachers can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
He says the legislature will not renegotiate with the Salt Lake City School District on a back-to-school timeline meaning SLC SD teachers and staff who start in-person learning after February 8th are no longer eligible for bonus checks from the state of up to $1,500. Some elementary schools in the SLC SD are slated to come back before that date and would be eligible.
Speaker Wilson said, “We’re very disappointed in the board’s decision last night; we’re really struggling for the students here. We’re seeing the stats and data and a large portion of that population [Salt Lake City middle and high school students] is failing and we cannot afford to fail these children any longer. Every other district has figured out a portion of in person learning; we believe Salt Lake can as well.”
In December, the Executive Appropriations Committee voted to approve bonus checks to Utah teachers in districts offering in-person learning options to all students by January 19th. Days later, the SLC District and legislature negotiated moving that timeline to February 8th. The District made it clear that the timeline was contingent on teachers being fully vaccinated before being required to offer in-person instruction to all students. Now, it’s unclear when exactly teachers will receive the vaccine.
Speaker Wilson said, “Our negotiation was based on the February 8th timeline and we were fine with that date. They [the SLC School District] tethered the date to the vaccine. We did not. The fact that the vaccine has slipped means that students wouldn’t get back until the end of March and that is unacceptable. That’s an entire calendar year without in-person instruction. This district is first on the list to get their vaccines; they could get those vaccines as early as next week. Other districts have figured this out and we think SLC should figure it out as well.”
“It’s not about the money, it is all about student success and we’re failing in that school district right now,” said Wilson.
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