Montgomery County schools add more COVID leave days for staff

Montgomery ISD Superintendent Heath Morrison visits with Lake Creek High School students as he tours several campuses on the first day of school on Aug. 12. For the first time since 2019, students across the district began the school year attending classes on campus after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to begin last fall online.
Jason Fochtman, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

School districts in Montgomery County have chosen to add more leave days for employees so it is less likely that employees need to use personal time if they must quarantine because of COVID-19.

Students, faculty, and staff at local school districts cannot come to school or work if they test positive for COVID-19 and must isolate for at least 10 days, sometimes longer.

To help employees avoid dipping into personal leave time while isolating, districts are adding more paid sick leave days.

Most of the resolutions that have been passed in local districts specify that the additional leave days are only for district employees that test positive for COVID. All of the resolutions recognize that employees that run out of leave days would be required to dip into their vacation days.

The latest district to pass such a resolution is Willis ISD, which gave employees five additional leave days after a vote from the board of trustees on Aug. 25. Willis’ resolution started retroactively on the first day that teachers began working for the school year.

“The district believes allocating employees three additional local paid leave days will minimize any financial impact for employees who are required to isolate to protect the district’s students and staff from being exposed to COVID-19, thus allowing our schools to remain open,” according to a Conroe ISD resolution passed at the Aug. 3 trustee meeting.

Conroe ISD employees now have five local paid leave days, and five state paid leave days. On Monday morning, CISD was reporting 212 employees in isolation due to positive COVID-19 tests.

On Aug. 17, the Montgomery Independent School District Board of Trustees passed a resolution giving employees 10 additional local leave days for this school year.

Each year, employees of MISD are given five local leave days, and five state leave days. The 10 days from the board must be used related to COVID-19, so they can be used if an employee tests positive or if an employee’s family member tests positive and the employee has been in close contact with them.

“The main motivation for that was so that folks did not feel pressure as they are dealing with family complications and things that might come up, to have to come to school, to have to come to work,” said Matt Fuller, president of the Montgomery ISD board. “We see this as a part of our plan for helping support our staff through this.”

The resolution is only for this school year, the additional 10 days will not be available next year unless the board votes to extend the resolution or pass a new one.

“This is something that I feel Montgomery ISD has done right, we’ve led in this area, and I’m very excited to see how our staff are using this opportunity, and helping them however we can,” Fuller said.

At its Aug. 16 meeting, the Splendora ISD board passed a resolution adding five additional local leave days for employees who test positive for COVID-19 because Emergency Paid Sick Leave ended last school year.

“Last year we spent $78,080 on non teacher positives (40 total) and $260,176 on teacher positives (101 total). The average number of days out ranged from 5-8 excluding weekends. Total cost was $338,256,” according to the Splendora ISD agenda form for the resolution.

As of Monday morning, Splendora ISD was reporting 28 active employee COVID cases.

“Magnolia Independent School District Board of Trustees believes that the district’s educational mission and thus its public purpose is served by ensuring that its committed, experienced and skilled staff members have an equitable opportunity to obtain reasonable paid sick leave for test confirmed COVID-19 absences,” according to a resolution from the Aug. 23 Magnolia ISD board meeting.

The resolution gave employees an additional 10 local leave days, but all 10 days are for both last school year and this school year until the resolution ends Dec. 18. If an employee used five days last year under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which authorized additional emergency paid sick leave they have five additional sick leave days left.

Written by Jamie Swinnerton

Categories: Education, Health

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