Cooper Announces Policy Allowing State Employees To Use Volunteer Days To Provide Support In Schools

State employees encouraged to help out in schools as substitute teachers, staff

RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday plans to help combat staff shortages in K-12 school districts across the state during the current surge of COVID-19 cases. The policy will allow state employees to use volunteer days with supervisor approval to work in North Carolina public schools as substitute teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria staff.

“It is critical that we keep children learning in the classroom safely,” said Gov. Cooper. “This policy will encourage state employees to lend a helping hand to our students at a time of severe staffing challenges for our public schools.”

For much of the 2021-22 school year, many school districts have experienced a greater need for substitute teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff and other support personnel who can fill in for employees who need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

To help combat the staff shortages, Gov. Cooper’s new directive will allow state employees to use paid leave to serve as substitute staff in schools while also keeping any compensation they earn as substitutes. The State Human Resource Commission’s Community Service Leave Policy states that full-time state employees are eligible for 24 hours of paid community service leave each calendar year. This leave may be used by state employees with supervisor approval and will not interfere with or delay state government operations.

“State employees always step up to help our state in challenging times and this policy gives our talented employees yet another way to serve their communities,” said Barbara Gibson, State Human Resources Director.

“We appreciate Governor Cooper’s willingness to move quickly to address the current staffing crisis caused by the omicron variant,” Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras said. “This is one more tool we can use to keep our classrooms and schools open for our students.”

Under the updated policy, state employees are eligible to use community service leave for time spent training to be a substitute teacher, substitute teacher’s assistant or other substitute staff at a school or school district. State employees are also eligible to use community service leave for other volunteer activities, regardless of compensation.

The policy will be effective starting on January 12, 2022, and will end on February 15, 2022.

Read the existing community service leave policy and the temporary exception allowing expanded use of the policy in schools.

View the school district substitute information.


  1. If everywhere is short-staffed, how would any supervisor approve an employee to miss work right now to volunteer?

    Here’s an idea, CALL IN THE NATIONAL GUARD. Other states are doing it and I know our schools need more than help than relying on the kindness of volunteers. Nice gesture but isn’t going fix anything or help anybody.

    • Jen R… I’m pretty sure that a vaccine mandate that is not even enacted in our school system is NOT why there are school staffing issues. Also, if you removed masks right now, you would lose even MORE school staff to various symptoms, quarantines, and positive cases. If it’s not the school staff member calling out for themselves, there is a good chance that the school staff member has to stay home because their own school-aged kid(s) is staying home due to one of the three reasons mentioned above. The rest of the general population is not working because they are either medically unable, unsatisfied with their workplace, or flat out lazy.

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