R.I. Governor signs order to alleviate substitute teacher shortage

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom while continuing to collect their full pension, a move meant to help alleviate a shortage of substitutes exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic prompted many teachers to retire or work remotely because of health protocols. In the fall, the state started a substitute teacher recruitment program and called on retirees to resume teaching.

The order signed late last month waives the existing requirement that a retired teacher’s state pension be paused if they work for more than 90 days in the year.

State Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green told WPRI-TV on Tuesday the pension pause was a “barrier” to getting retirees to return to the classroom.

“If you’re a retired teacher, please come join us,” Infante-Green said. “We need you now and there will not be any penalty.”

The order requires school districts to inform the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island that a retiree is needed because of the pandemic and is not being employed past June 25.

Under the order, any retired teaching or administrative staff hired by a school district will not be entitled to additional retirement.

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