Greensboro, N.C. – Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras announced today that Guilford County Schools (GCS) plans to increase pay for certain hourly workers. Effective April 1, hourly employees filling critical roles during the coronavirus pandemic will be paid time and one-half for hours worked.

The pay increase applies to hourly employees who have been deemed mandatory by their supervisors and are required to report to work either to provide childcare for hospital workers or prepare and deliver student meals.

Approximately 22 million children across the United States rely on the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch they receive at school. For the 2019-2020 school year, more than sixty-five percent of GCS students meet the criteria for free- or reduced-price meals. Last Tuesday, GCS served slightly fewer than 1,000 meals. A mere eight days later, the district is serving more than 29,000 emergency meals per day and has provided more than 157,000 meals in total to children since Governor Roy Cooper announced schools were closing, effective March 16.

“Without our dedicated school nutrition and transportation staff who are preparing and distributing meals, Guilford County would be facing the potential of massive child hunger,” said Contreras. “Additionally, without the commitment of our after-school staff, teacher assistants and custodial support, some hospital workers would not have childcare and would be unable to report for duty.”

Contreras said she plans to ask the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) and Governor Cooper to take quick action to increase the pay of public-school employees providing these essential services during the coronavirus pandemic. Contreras and school board members are meeting virtually Tuesday morning with members of the local delegation to the NCGA.

“We respectfully ask the General Assembly to act swiftly to increase the pay of these critical hourly employees,” said Contreras. “In the meantime, however, GCS will take action immediately to prevent child hunger and the lack of childcare for frontline healthcare workers from making the pandemic even worse.”

The pay increase for the identified hourly workers is valid from April 1 to April 30, 2020, but may be extended, depending on the pandemic’s impact in Guilford County. GCS plans to reduce the number of non-mandatory personnel working on-site this coming week to help “flatten the curve” – the anticipated increase in coronavirus 19 cases.

Per the North Carolina State Board of Education, non-mandatory employees, as well as those who report to work for reduced hours, who are unable to work remotely from home, may take paid State Emergency Leave for the balance of the hours where they have not been assigned on-site or remote duties.

The paid State Emergency Leave is in effect from March 16 to April 30. The additional leave was approved last Friday by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

About Guilford County Schools

Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina and the 47th largest of more than 14,000 in the United States, serves more than 73,000 PK-12 students at 125 schools. With approximately 10,000 employees, GCS works in partnership with parents, businesses, colleges and the community to deliver an education that connects student interests and skills with the careers and economy of our future here and around the world. We provide educational choices to meet individual student needs in a culturally diverse citizenship and new opportunities to help our students Soar to Greatness. For more information, visit the district’s website at www.gcsnc.com.

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