School supplies double border on a wood desk background

On Jan. 14, the Peoria Unified School District board addressed the COVID-19 pandemic by approving measures increasing paid sick time for teachers and temporary increased pay for classroom coverage. 

PUSD will offer approval of up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees with a positive COVID-19 test. An employee awaiting test results with written direction from a healthcare provider to quarantine can also obtain the paid sick leave. 

The benefit will work retroactively so employees can receive compensation instead of using their sick leave. 

Community members spoke in support of the increase, helping to alleviate the uncertainty of contracting the virus and the financial repercussions it can have on teachers. 

“I know for a fact that the extra money will help ease some minds of some teachers,” Frank Eager said.

“As a teacher this is one of those things we talk about that shows more than just a thank you.”

The board also unanimously passed a motion for a temporary increase to classroom coverage pay. 

This is in effect when a current teacher gives up prep time to cover a class because another teacher is not able to teach.

The coverage pay will increase from $20 per hour to $25 per hour and from $30 per 90 minutes to $37.50 per 90 minutes retroactive to Jan. 4, through May 21, 2021.

“It’s good for everybody,” Molly Morris Glowser said. 

“I am a property owner, a tax payer of this district, and I grew up in this district and I am happy to have my taxes go towards something like this just for the record,” Glowser said. 

“It’s another that shows that appreciation out there,” Egear said. 

The board also approved more than doubling computer hardware. 

The expenditure will increase from $1.5 million to $3.5 million.

And the board approved a program bringing real world cyber applications to their classrooms. 

The program provides students with hands-on cyber security course work and exercises

Students are able to participate in a virtual lab where they can similar cybersecurity scenarios with the protection of an online environment. This allows students to explore the back end of IT systems used by industry leaders.

Arizona State University will donate the cost of range time to support the pilot program at MET Professional Academy and Cactus High School. 

Contact Allison Engstrom at aengstrom@timespublications.com.