In his COVID-19 briefing Thursday, April 9, Governor Mike Parson announced that all Missouri public and charter school buildings will remain closed through the remainder of the academic year.

This recommendation was made to Governor Parson by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and several school superintendents from rural and urban areas across the state.

“Continuing our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering all public and charter schools to remain closed through the remainder of this academic year, with the exception of nutrition and child care outlined in our Stay Home Missouri Order,” Governor Parson said.

School services are expected to continue through the last day of school in each school district as pre-established by the academic calendar approved by their local board of education. These continued services include alternative educational opportunities as well as providing much-needed meals to students who count on them.

DESE will issue additional guidance to Missouri school leaders in the near future. In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, DESE is continuing efforts to help local school leaders by removing barriers and waiving the necessary state statutes and regulations.

Additional K-12 information and guidance can be found at dese.mo.gov/COVID19.

In addition to this announcement, Governor Parson emphasized the state’s “Stay Home Missouri” Order and social distancing measures are working to help combat COVID-19.

Governor Parson also highlighted the efforts of businesses across the state to abide by the guidelines of his ‘Stay Home Missouri’ Order, including grocery stores.

Governor Parson’s “Stay Home Missouri” Order will remain in effect through Friday, April 24.

In a briefing held April 7, 2020, Governor Parson announced that the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DOLIR) Division of Employment Security (DES) has received its first operational guidance related to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

The FPUC does not include any provisions or benefits for eligible self-employed workers. Late Sunday, April 5, DOLIR received federal guidance on that provision, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The FPUC provides that those eligible for at least one dollar ($1 U.S.) of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement. The DES expects FPUC payments to begin going out to eligible recipients as early as the week of April 12, 2020, after the technology updates and procedures are implemented.

The $600 federal supplement for those that are unemployed will be effective the week beginning March 29, 2020, for those filing their unemployment payment request for that week.

Payments will be made retroactively for claims filed on or after March 29, 2020.

The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020.

During the FPUC program period, claimants who are eligible to receive regular unemployment weekly payments will receive the additional $600 FPUC payment.

Missouri’s regular unemployment insurance program continues to be in effect. Under Missouri unemployment law, most people who are currently employed and quit are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

If an employer offers sick leave and/or other leave options to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, then a person who quits on his/her own volition would not qualify for unemployment benefits.

At this point, no federal legislation changes this part of Missouri’s program eligibility for unemployment.

Governor Parson also announced at the briefing that he has directed DOLIR to implement an emergency rule that will help ensure first-responders who contract COVID-19 are covered through workers’ compensation.

This emergency rule will create a presumption that first responders who contract COVID-19 did so in the line of duty and allow them to make a claim under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation law to cover the expenses incurred.

Unemployed workers are encouraged to file their unemployment claims online at uinteract.labor.mo.gov as soon as they are separated from their employer. For convenience, the UInteract website is available 24/7 and mobile-friendly. Over 90 percent of initial claims are now filed online.

For questions and answers related to the coronavirus and unemployment, as well as other effects on employment, visit labor.mo.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.