School Board Develops New COVID-19 Absence Guidelines

Federal guidelines for employee absences associated with the COVID-19 pandemic expired at the end of December.  Lacking those guidelines, the Red River Parish School Board on Thursday afternoon took up writing their own guidelines.

Superintendent Alison Hughes informed the board of the current situation and some practices she would like to see the board put in place to deal with employee absences due to the virus.  “If we quarantine an employee, we should allow them to work from home if their exposure was from a school incident,” said Hughes.  She added, “We would not charge them those days as sick days if they worked from home, and if they were too ill to work, they still would not be charged.”  And Hughes added, “If they were exposed outside of work the employees would then use their sick days.”

There was discussion of a few workers abusing the situation concerning paid absence for virus-related reasons.  Hughes said, “The way things stand we had some take advantage of the situation.  Some employees who were not exposed at work were out for fourteen days three different times.”

Under the expired federal rules employees got an additional 10 COVID days.  That provision ended December 31st.

The bulk of the discussion centered on how to structure the board’s guidelines to prevent abuse of the system and take care of teachers and school employees who either contract the virus or have to quarantine due to exposure to the virus.

The board members reached a consensus on the guidelines.  Their draft will now be reviewed by the board’s attorney and published to board members, teachers and school workers, and the public.  Hughes said that should be accomplished in the next few days.  When issued, The Journal will post that information on our web page and social media outlets.