Updates on Licensure, Vaccines and Willoughby-Eastlake

To: OAPSE Members

From: Executive Director Joe Rugola

Re: Member Update

Date: January 25, 2021

Greetings and Happy New Year to OAPSE members across the state. With the holiday season behind us and school back in session in some form – remote, hybrid or in-person, this member update celebrates a big win for our members in Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools, updates you on state licensure requirements and provides the latest information about the state’s vaccination program for school employees.

Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools

We continue to celebrate our historic court victory that assures our members of locals 159 and 163 will continue to receive their regular pay and benefits during the pandemic. OAPSE won a preliminary injunction that put 209 custodians, maintenance workers and food service employees back to work after the Willoughby-Eastlake administration laid them off and canceled their insurance just before Christmas.

Unfortunately, the employer has appealed the judge’s ruling, so we will be back in court fighting for the members of locals 159 and 163. And we will continue to prepare for more legal battles to come. We will not let up in our fight to protect the jobs, pay and benefits of every OAPSE member in Willoughby-Eastlake or anywhere in Ohio.

One-Year Temporary Non-Bachelor’s Substitute Teaching Licenses 

OAPSE members who are interested in substitute teaching should know that the Ohio Department of Education has temporarily changed the requirements to qualify as a substitute teacher and has issued the following information:

The ODE understands the COVID-19 pandemic situation has increased the need for substitute teachers to help schools and districts remain open. In response, the Department has been granted the authority (HB 409 of the 133rd General Assembly; Section (3)) to issue a one-time non-renewable one-year temporary non-bachelor’s substitute teaching license for the 2020-2021 school year. An eligible applicant who does not hold a postsecondary degree must meet the employing school or district’s set of education requirements.  

One-year temporary non-bachelor’s substitute teaching licenses now are available at the request of the employing school or district. These licenses are valid for teaching in an assigned class of any subject area and grade level in the employing school district for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Applicants must have current background checks on file with the Department. Please see the Background Check FAQs webpage for more information. The flexibility provided in HB 409 is available only for the 2020-2021 school year. Following the 2020-2021 school year, educators will be held to the same substitute teaching licensure requirements that existed prior to HB 409. 

Deadlines for T-8 Physicals

Most deadlines for educational licensures were extended until July 1, 2021, because of the health pandemic. However, the deadline for T-8 physicals required for CDL licensure has not been extended. That deadline was December 1, 2020. You should complete your physical and have your T-8 physical form on file with your employer as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

OAPSE has continued to work with Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Education on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our members across Ohio. That communication includes guidance about COVID-19 vaccinations for school employees. As you know, school employees will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination beginning February 1, 2021. OAPSE is encouraging our members to get the vaccination at their first opportunity.

School districts are receiving information about vaccinations from the Ohio Educational Service Center (ESC). The ESC released the following about what school employees can expect regarding vaccinations:

As Ohio prepares to begin administration of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible school staff members, some details are still being developed and will be communicated once they are available. In the meantime, school staff members should bear in mind the following parts of the plan that have been established conclusively:

  1. School staff should not call local pharmacies or health care providers for instructions. Rather, eligible school staff members should expect to receive detailed instructions about next steps from their school or district leadership.
  2. In some cases, the registered vaccine administration partner will come to a school on a designated date and time. In other cases, staff may need to visit a specific central location in person to receive the vaccination. Details on specific operations for each school will come from school or district leadership. In either scenario, school staff vaccine clinics will be dedicated solely to school staff members. This means school staff members and members of the general public will not be competing with one another in order to receive their vaccine.
  3. Please anticipate that information and instructions about vaccination administration plans will flow through the ESCs, to the schools and on to staff members.

Of course, the plan to vaccinate depends upon having enough doses on hand.  The state and school districts are at the mercy of vaccine availability but are working to provide vaccines as quickly as possible. And we anticipate some hiccups as the system is implemented to vaccinate tens of thousands of school employees. So if you are not getting timely information from your employer, contact your field representative, and we will work to get your questions answered.

We will continue to update you as information becomes available about any of these topics and others that impact the lives of OAPSE members.

Stay safe and God bless.