COVID-19 sick leave OK’d for WISD employees

Policy to be retroactive first day of school

By Chris Roark
croark@gannett.com

There will be some financial peace of mind for Waxahachie ISD employees should they contract the COVID-19 virus this school year.

During Monday’s special meeting, the WISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to create up to 80 hours (10 days) of special paid sick leave for employees to use in the 2021-22 school year if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The special sick leave, which is a component of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), was offered to WISD staff between April 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020. When it expired, it was extended to end of the 2020-21 school year.

“As we entered this school year, WISD employees were no longer entitled to any additional sick leave for COVID-19 illnesses other than available state and local leave,” a WISD memo states. “Unfortunately WISD employees are still at risk for contracting COVID-19 and must responsibly quarantine within their homes in the event they in fact contract COVID-19. WISD employees who are unable to report to work due to illness may suffer a loss of pay if they do not report for work and have exhausted all available state and local leave days.”

Jerry Hollingsworth

Resident Chris Wright spoke during the public participation portion of the meeting to encourage the board to approve the measure, saying his family knows first hand how the virus can impact teachers.

Wright said his wife, a retired teacher, had COVID-19 last year, and his daughter, a teacher, has COVID-19 now.

“As we all know it’s bouncing around with all the kids this year,” Wright said. “It didn’t last year, but this year it is.”

Superintendent Jerry Hollingsworth said the policy will be retroactive to the beginning of the school year, and it won’t impact an employee’s state leave accrual.