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To: OAPSE Leaders and Members
From: OAPSE Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency
In light of the crisis surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), our union has been in ongoing discussions with the office of Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) about the ramifications of closing schools and other public agencies. We want to share with you our conclusions about those conversations and the agreements we have reached.
First, we fully support the governor’s decisions as to how Ohio should deal with this emergency. It is our belief that his actions to date are the most appropriate for our hopes of slowing the transmission of this disease. We will remain in constant contact with his office and the ODE on the next steps to be taken.
Second, the governor has closed the schools to students but has not yet ordered our members to stay at home. This is absolutely the correct decision, since some vital services must be provided during the duration of the closing of our schools. Any of our members whose work is deemed essential to the operations of the schools must report to work. The obvious exception would be for anyone who is ill or otherwise has a legitimate excuse for missing work.
Third, this is not to be considered a typical calamity closing. The governor has declared that our members will be paid their regular rate of pay through April 3, when this initial closing period expires, regardless of whether they are required to work. This is to the obvious benefit of our members, who will not be required to use any other form of leave for that period of time.
Fourth, we will be continuing our discussions with the governor and the ODE to prepare for a possible additional closing period after April 3.
Finally, we must keep in mind that services to the children of Ohio and to the citizens served by the other agencies we represent, is the reason our jobs exist in the first place. We have an obligation to place that responsibility above every other consideration, and we will do so as long as we are called upon to help Ohio get through this challenging time.