Surry School Board OKs coronavirus leave, stipends

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Employees of Surry County Public Schools who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to work remotely will have up to 10 days of paid emergency leave available to them through Dec. 31.

Surry County’s School Board voted unanimously on Sept. 14 to offer the locally funded extension of the emergency leave provisions authorized under last year’s federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The emergency leave will allow employees subject to quarantine to do so without needing to tap into their allotted sick days or vacation time.

The leave, which will be equal to an employee’s normal rate of pay, is available only to employees who did not use their 10 days last year under the FFCRA provisions, and only to those unable to work remotely from home while in quarantine.

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Employees who are able to telework while in quarantine, if their health permits, are required to do so per the school system’s emergency leave regulation. Employees must also have been employed with Surry County Public Schools for at least 30 days to be eligible for the leave.

“If it is determined that an employee does not meet the requirements qualifying as an exposure or a confirmed case, is exposed as a result of not abiding by current mandates,such as not following the SCPS Health Mitigation plan, not wearing a face covering, attending a gathering with more than 10 people, not abiding by the School Board policies will at work, etc., or knowingly exposing themselves to a sick individual who does not reside in their household, we reserve the right to deny this benefit,” states the regulation. “In these cases, contracted employees will be required to utilize their accrued leave or go on leave without pay.”

Following a mid-meeting closed session that lasted just over an hour, the School Board also voted unanimously to offer stipends in an unspecified amount to “said employees as presented.” According to Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims, the “said employees” are those taking on additional responsibilities as a result of the ongoing pandemic, such as teaching virtual classes.