Message from the OESP President. . .

Dear OESP Member,

I want each of you to know that even beyond my Union roll as President of Okaloosa Education Staff Professionals I care about you, your success, your health and safety and the same for all our students. I want you to know that I have been in constant contact with the District about the roles we as Okaloosa County Support Professionals will perform over the next few weeks as we try to finish the school year.  The District is sincere when they say to treat all employees, children, and families with Compassion and Grace.  That should be your guiding light as we deal with the issues that are before us through the end of this school year and beyond.   

Here are a few questions you might have:

Am I Getting Paid?
Let me first reassure you that all staff will be paid through the end of the school year.  For many that is the last day of school and for many more that is June 30.  There are some requirements you will have to get paid.  You must work.  With an online model of learning many jobs that serve students may be remote (at home online). 

Do I Have to Work to Get Paid?
Work may look different for some, as your normal routines might not be needed in the remote leaning environment, and your principal or manager (supervisor) might need you to do something that is not in your job description.  If they ask you to do something that is a different, be honest if you need help or training.  Safety always first.  You are welcome to email or call me and we can discuss if you like.  

Do I Have to Work 7 ½ Hours A Day (my full shift)?
Not necessarily.  We have agreed that your manager can combine shifts. If you work a partial day (i.e. 2 1/2hours or 3 ½ hours a day) you might work 1 day a week and then do a training online to count the rest of the hours.  Be flexible and communicate with your supervisor. 

Do I Have to Do My Work Onsite?
Some of our jobs are essential to the operation of the school or district.  Those jobs will have to report to work.  We have asked that everyone that is not essential to stay away and work remotely.  We can protect the health of those in the building by not bringing germs into the building.

What If I Can’t Put In 7 ½ Hours a Day?
We agreed that you must work for your pay.  It may be that you can fulfill your assigned responsibilities in much less time than your regular full shift.  Let’s just make sure you take care of your assigned work and if you see you need to do something to serve your students, DO IT.  Let’s make sure we take care of our students.

Should We Communicate with My Supervisor?
Yes!  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.  Make sure you are communicating with your supervisor about what you need to do, what you are doing and what you can do better.

Do I Need to Document What I Am Doing? 
If you work remotely, document the students you contact and/or the work you do daily.   Make sure if your supervisor asks, you can show what you have done and the students you have served.

What If I Get Sick?
Stay at home! If you are working remotely and can fulfill your work responsibilities, great.  If not, ask your supervisor if they could support you working remotely for the period you will be out.  If they cannot accommodate your remote work, you will have to take leave as normal.

What if I Must Self-Isolate Due to the Recommendation of My Doctor?
Call your manager immediately.  The district has agreed if you must self-isolate, they will cover your leave.  Please don’t go to your worksite! 

I am available much of the day to answer or work with you and your supervisor.  If you email me, please include a phone # that I can return your call.  A cell phone is preferable, that is the easiest way for me to clarify and respond quickly. 

The union office is closed during this time, but our staff is working remotely.  Email is the best way for members to contact us.  Members can still call the office, but you must leave a voicemail for either Greg, Dianna or myself. Voicemail messages left at the office are emailed to us and we will return your call.  

No one knows exactly what this new way of online instruction will look like at the end of the day, but this too shall pass.  We must do the best we can and make sure to the best of our abilities that the students we serve are taken care of during this time. Be flexible, communicate with your supervisor, and treat everyone with grace and compassion. 

Thank you for your work, your flexibility, and your grace and compassion.

Patrick Strong
OESP President