In addition to ensuring its staff continues to draw paychecks during COVID-19 school closures, San Diego Unified School District in Southern California is paying time and a half to frontline workers such as school bus drivers.
The state’s second-largest school district closed its doors on March 16 in response to the public health crisis. Samer Naji, the district facilities communication supervisor, said it reached an agreement with the California School Employees Association to make the pay increase possible for employees who must come into close contact with coworkers or the general public as they provide a host of essential services.
While the district started its student distance learning program on April 6, many transportation staff remained working. While school bus drivers are not using the yellow vehicles to deliver meals or laptops, as many are around the nation, they are instead working at 19 food distribution sites and seven laptop distribution sites located throughout the district.
Naji said social distancing is being adhered to, and the district provides workers with masks, gloves, cleaning stations and supplies.
“In this unprecedented crisis, San Diego Unified is striving to be a source of stability to our families and staff and we want to support all of our staff to the greatest extent possible,” Naji said. “To that end, we value the strong collaboration that exists with all of our bargaining units and union partners.”
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The district offers families drive-thru and walk-up, pick-up options. The food distribution sites are open Monday through Friday and provide the current day’s lunch and the following day’s breakfast. However, Naji said staff is currently working on adding weekend breakfast and lunches to the meal bags for families. The weekend meal lunches will start on Thursday and the weekend breakfasts will begin on April 30.
Through April 15, Naji said the district had distributed over 365,000 thousand meals and 27,000 Chromebook laptops to families.