New Law Regarding Remote Learning and Paying Staff and Service Providers

by Kasi M. Gifford, Esq.

To Our School Board Community:

We have been trying to anticipate and quickly respond to your questions during this time, given the unprecedented challenges presented to our Boards as a result of COVID-19 and the related school closures. A couple of weeks ago we made you aware of pending legislation regarding the use of virtual education and related services, as well as the payment of employees and contracted service providers. The law was signed on April 14, 2020, and takes effect immediately. 

This legislation answers and clarifies many questions that Board Members and School Administrators have been asking over the last couple of weeks.

In summary, this law provides the following:

1.) Public school employees should continue to be paid, whether covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement or not.

2.) Public schools should continue to pay their contracted service providers for the services the contractors and third-party vendors would be performing if school were open, so that said contractors and vendors can still make payroll.

  • Specifically, the CARES Act passed by the Federal Government requires Districts to pay contractors to the extent practicable.
  • This law requires Districts to make a good faith effort to re-negotiate their contract terms with their contracted service providers. You should work with the contractor to determine the cost of their certified pay rolls, and incurred fixed costs as a result of your contract. Also to confirm if they have business interruption insurance.
  • You should not be paying for incidental costs such as fuel, tolls, and supplies not actually used.
  • Lastly, while not in the law, during this re-negotiation, you should consider whether to confirm your contractors are complying with their statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations, i.e. training of employees during this down time.

3.) County Special Services, Jointure Commission, and Shared Services Agreements should still be honored, and County Special Services employees should continue to be paid.

Our e-mails about recent developments are not intended to substitute for our legal advice to our clients based on your specific needs or requests. In addition, our guidance is subject to, and can be superseded by new laws, rules, regulations, or orders. Moreover, some directives from the Federal and State authorities can appear, and can be, contradictory or in conflict, so please contact us for assistance.

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As always, please contact us with any questions. We will continue to do our best to keep you updated in the coming days and weeks. 

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