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Salt Lake City middle and high school students could be back to in-person learning by February

If proposed plan is approved through the Salt Lake City School Board
Posted at 6:31 PM, Dec 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 23:22:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Larry Madden said vaccine availability for teachers was a leading factor in striking Friday's deal with House Speaker Brad Wilson.

"Based on the information we got this week about vaccines and the opportunity for our teachers to be vaccinated, that was kind of the compelling information in coming up with this proposal," Madden said.

Under the new proposal, which needs to be approved by the Salt Lake City School Board, middle and high school students will be back in class by Feb. 8.

"I'll be really glad to have kids back in school, and teachers back in school," Madden said. "We're used to doing the work there."

With updates to the State's COVID-19 vaccination plan, teacher's will have received both rounds of vaccinations by the end of January.

"From the information that we're getting, seven days after the second dose is when that vaccine is most effective," Madden added. "So, that's kind of what drove the February 8 start date."

The deal between House Speaker Brad Wilson and the district makes $1500 stipends to teachers, and $1000 bonuses to school staffers, that were offered statewide now available to Salt Lake City educators.

"Everyone wanted the same thing," said Wilson in a Friday interview with FOX 13. "We want what's best for the kids and we were just trying to figure out the best way to make that happen."

"I'm very happy that our teachers can get a stipend," Madden said. "I think they work so incredibly hard, and I'm glad that's being appreciated. I think that's wonderful."

The Salt Lake City School District was left out of the original stipend proposal because they were keeping students online. The stipends are a 'thank you' to educators for working during the pandemic. Wilson was initially criticized for blocking the money from going to them.

"There has been a lot of concern from law makers across the state about what's been happening in Salt Lake," Wilson said. "We've always wanted to pay the bonus to every teacher and educator, including those in the Salt Lake school district, and we've always wanted the kids in the Salt Lake school district to be in class. This was a way for us to get everyone at the table, and I'm glad it worked."

"I respect the choices of others, and I think so far we've made good choices for our students and community," Madden said.

In a statement sent to FOX 13, Salt Lake teacher's union president James Tobler said:

"We appreciate discussions between the Salt Lake Superintendent and Speaker of the House on giving Salt Lake City School District employees the bonus they deserve after such an a exhausting year. We maintain that staff, student, and community safety are of the highest concern."

The proposal will be presented to the Salt Lake City School Board for their approval on January 5. The full legislature votes on it when it meets next month, with money going to educators by February.