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Poplarville School Board discusses paid time off

Poplarville School District’s Board of Trustees discussed paid time off for staff members during its regular meeting Monday.

The Board approved a small addition to the district’s pandemic/epidemic emergencies policy to include that the district will be able to grant administrative leave during any declared state of emergency.

The language was added just in case schools need to close again due to the pandemic and in case the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is unable to cover the cost of staff leave, said CFO Samantha Sandifer.

If the governor or president has declared a state of emergency, then the district is able to grant administrative leave to teachers or staff who were unable to work due to school closures, said Sandifer. Whether that administrative leave would be paid or unpaid would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Determinations about offering administrative leave during another school closure would need Board approval, said Sandifer. If staff were still working from home, they would still receive their regular rate of pay, said Sandifer.

If an individual classroom has to shut down, administrators would be able to determine if the teacher will be able to keep working from home or from school, said Sandifer, but if an entire school has to close, administrators will go to the Board to determine how to move forward.

If the school district sends an individual staff member home because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 they will need to see a medical provider to determine if they should be tested in order to receive paid time off without using their regular leave, said Sandifer.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act means that district employees can receive up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are quarantined at the advice of a medical provider or seeking a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms. Employees can get up to two weeks of paid sick leave at two thirds their regular pay if they need to care for someone in quarantine or care for a child after a childcare provider closes due to COVID-19. Ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave is also available due to FFCRA. The Act expires Dec. 31.

In other business, the Board:

—Approved a memorandum of understanding with William Carey University to allow undergraduate students to work as student teachers in the district.

—Approved the collaborative agreement with CARES School for the upcoming school year. Students with behavioral needs beyond the capacity of district staff attend the CARES facility, explained Superintendent Konya Miller. The Board also approved an interagency agreement with Pearl River County, which provides student transportation to CARES.