SALT LAKE CITY — House Speaker Brad Wilson said that as long as schools return to in-person learning, teachers and school staffers in the Salt Lake City School District will not forfeit proposed COVID-19 bonuses.
A spokesman for Speaker Wilson, R-Kaysville, told FOX 13 that his belief is so long as in-person learning resumes by Feb. 8, they will not forfeit the proposed stipends.
But the Salt Lake City School Board voted to resume in-person instruction in middle and high schools once the second dose of the vaccines have been administered — but did not set a timeline for when that would take place. It is also unclear when educators would start being offered the COVID-19 vaccine (but it could happen by the end of this month).
Until a date is set, it would appear to continue a standoff between Republican leaders in the Utah State Legislature and the Salt Lake City School District. FOX 13 first reported last month that Speaker Wilson made a motion to block the $1,500 bonuses for teachers and $1,000 stipends for school staffers for those not holding in-person classroom instruction. The money was intended as a "thank you" for educators working in difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaker Wilson has defended the move as helping children get the best education possible. Salt Lake City schools have been online-only since they returned in the fall. Other schools have been a mix of in-person or online as COVID-19 cases surge and decline in schools.
In a statement issued later on Wednesday, the Speaker reiterated it.
"I am disappointed by the position taken by the Salt Lake City School District Board, who seem ready to accept their students falling significantly behind their counterparts in surrounding districts. Throughout the state, other districts have implemented precautions that allow students to benefit from in-person instruction while protecting teachers and staff. Students in Salt Lake should not be left behind," he said in a statement.
"As with every other district in the state, the Salt Lake City School District has the ability to implement in-person learning and can no longer exclude their students from receiving quality, in-person instruction. I hope the board members who are charged with caring for their students will choose to start in-classroom instruction by February 8th so Salt Lake City teachers can receive their stipend and their students can get back to school."