SYLACAUGA, Ala. (WIAT) — As more students continue to test positive for COVID-19, Sylacauga City Schools has launched a COVID relief plan to keep students at school for in-person learning.
Under the plan, any employee who is in quarantine will still have to teach from home unless they get too sick to do so. Superintendent Michele Eller said the district decided on this plan Tuesday at a board of education meeting because there has not been as much guidance this year from the state and national levels when it comes to time off for COVID-related reasons.
“Really, it’s up to us as a school system to take the safety of our people into our own hands, which makes it very different than last year,” Eller said.
According to Eller, the district recruited new teachers this year, some who have never taught before and don’t have any sick leave built up yet. Sylacauga’s relief plan has 10 days built into it for employees who show symptoms of the virus or test positive, so they don’t need to worry about running out of sick days and taking unpaid time off.
“We want to recruit and retain quality employees here, and we’re not going to be able to keep our quality employees if we don’t show that we are going to take care of them,” Eller said.
This COVID PTO can be applied starting back from June 1 through Dec. 31 for anyone who took or takes time off because of an exposure that made them sick.
Eller said she wants teachers to stay the course this year and take precautions like getting vaccinated to keep schools open. She said other districts like Talladega have reached out wanting to learn more about their plan to implement something similar in their schools.