Governor Spencer Cox on Monday signed an executive order to increase the number of substitute teachers for Utah schools.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, the order grants state employees an approved leave of absence from their government jobs to fill staffing gaps in public or private schools.
“We know children learn best in the classroom, so we want to do what we can to help schools stay open,” Cox said in a statement. “Our teachers and our children deserve our support during this difficult phase of the pandemic. We hope that many of the state’s 22,000 employees will take advantage of this opportunity to help our schools.
The Omicron variant has led to an unprecedented wave of absenteeism among teachers and education personnel, according to the governor’s statement. The purpose of Cox’s executive order is to help ease some of the tension by giving state employees the option to teach or perform another job — like working in the cafeteria.
Under Executive Order 2022-02, Utah employees will have up to 30 hours of paid leave to replace teaching or staff at a public or private school.
The order expires at the end of June.
State employees who take advantage of the program will be required to pass a background check. Qualified employees will receive both state pay and school district compensation.