School board reinstates COVID-19 leave, extends fall break

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night approved reinstatement of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA leave, retroactive from April 1 to Sept. 30, 2021.

The FFCRA, which ended on Mar. 31, 2021, provided employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons.

DeKalb County Superintendent Wayne Lyles said educators who have utilized their sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons during the stated period, will be reimbursed.

“This is for anyone that did not receive 10 days leave and had to take time off work for exposure or testing positive for COVID-19,” he said. “This will allow them to get their sick days back and be compensated for any lost wages due to not having sick days left to use until now.”

Lyles noted the FFCRA law expired Thursday, Sept. 30. Therefore the board can’t cover any employees after the stated date unless new legislation is put into place.

“Lots of people work really hard to be at work every day and it’s a shame the pandemic situation has taken their saved sick days away. So, I am glad that we can give these back,” he said.

Employees will receive 10 days as is the maximum required by law. Lyles said emails with further information and forms will be sent to employees as soon as possible, allowing them to submit their time and require documentation proving exposure or positive COVID-19 test.

“We will try to get that out very quickly and get that wrapped up since it does expire today,” he said.

Thursday evening, the board also approved to amend the 2021-22 school calendar for virtual learning on Oct. 14 and 15, 2021.

DeKalb County students fall break begins Monday, Oct. 11 through Wednesday, Oct. 13. However, with the recently approved two-day virtual learning days, students will not return to campus until Monday, Oct. 18.

Through the continued pandemic, Lyles said they had a lot of faculty, staff and administrators who have stepped up, carrying out extra duties while campuses are short on staff.

“Our student had more to deal with in the circumstance we are in right now. So, I think one full week away from campus during this time will be very beneficial to our staff and students,” said Lyles.

Board members agreed the extra days away from campus would be beneficial to all, noting the virtual days would still allow a learning experience for students.

– Editor’s note: Look for more information on the second half of Thursday night's board of education meeting in an upcoming edition of The Times-Journal.

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