The Sherman Independent School District took steps to ensure its employees instructed to stay home will be paid during the COVID-19 epidemic. In a unanimous vote, the SISD School Board approved authorizing.


The decision comes after SISD schools have remained shuttered for more than a week as a precaution against the further spread of the Coronavirus. Starting this week, the district has transitioned to remote learning, with campuses remaining closed for the foreseeable future.


“In this case of temporary closure due to COVID-19, we believe paying employees for hours not worked will increase morale and reduce employee turnover,” the district said in Monday night’s meeting documents.


In order for the district to pay idled employees when it is not legally-obligated to do so, the board is required to take certain steps. This includes determining that the cost serves a public purpose, the district retains control of the expense and that the district receives a return on the expense.


In addition to assisting those employees who were ordered home, Hicks said that the decision is designed to bring some comfort and reassurance to all employees during a difficult time.


"All of our employees are continuing to work and are still providing instruction just in a different way,“ he said. ”Our team members are working in their traditional roles, or they have stepped up to do whatever is needed to ensure our students' needs are met. Our board of trustees felt it was important to remove the worry of receiving compensation from our employees, so they may continue to focus on serving our students and families."


Among the departments who were lauded for their efforts was food service, who served more than 4,000 meals remotely to students last week. Meanwhile custodial staff spent time ensuring that the schools were thoroughly disinfected and clean for when students return to the classroom. At the same time, teachers were preparing to teach their classes to students who were not in their classrooms.


During Monday’s meeting, district leadership gave an update on the new roles district staff have taken in recent days. Hicks said he was proud of how much the entire district staff has stepped up in a trying time for many families.


“All of our staff, everyone, was excited to serve our kids, to serve them in this way and this as educators is really our time to step up and I am very proud of how our team has done that,” SISD Superintendent David Hicks said.


“What you see in these pictures are staff tending to tasks that are not in their job descriptions,” he continued. “We have custodians who are serving as translators. We have coaches and many other staff members who are going to deliver food. ... They are taking on so many responsibilities that are not what they typically do.”


Under the terms of the resolution, the district will pay the employees through the end of June, but left language in that would allow the resolution to be extended.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.