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Sulphur Springs ISD Extending Period For Paid Sick Leave During Pandemic

Sulphur Springs ISD is extending the period for paid sick leave during the pandemic, one of two district polices discussed during the December school board meeting. The parent of a middle school student addressed Sulphur Springs ISD trustees Monday about the district dress code policy regarding earrings.

Sick Leave Policy

Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams asked SSISD Board of Trustees to consider a resolution extending the period during which employees receive paid sick leave if they have to be absent during the pandemic for a COVID-19 qualifying reason.

SSISD Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams

Some regular SSISD employees have already used the 10 additional paid sick leave days (the equivalent of 80 work hours) for qualifying reasons under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. However, that act expires on Dec. 31, 2020.

Williams said there’s no way to know whether federal officials will extend that time period. There likely will be a need for additional employees to be out in the spring an extended time for sickness or isolation due to a pandemic. Having a policy in place providing up to 10 additional days of paid leave to all regular employees — regardless of whether they are contractual or noncontractual, salaried or non-salaried district employees — who meet the criteria will be good for employees as well as students.

SSISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the resolution providing the additional paid leave of up to 10 additional work days, unless the board authorizes a longer leave duration, for employees who are not permitted to report for work for a COVID-19 qualifying reason.

The resolution grants 100 percent paid leave of the employees’ salary for up to $511 a day if the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, has been advised by a local heath care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.

Staff can receive additional leave at 2/3rds the employee’s salary or pay up to $200 a day if the employee is caring for an individual subject to a quarantine order or recommendation; or who is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons. The policy has been extended through the end of the 2020-21 school year or until federal leave becomes available after Jan. 1, 2021.

Dress Code Policy

Amanda Claypool addressed school trustees about the school dress code. She explained to trustees during the public forum at Monday’s noon meeting that she was notified last Wednesday, after her child was given the choice of removing his earring or going to SAC. A school employee reportedly approached her 8th grader during lunch and instructed her student to remove the earring.

Amanda Claypool

While she agrees with guidelines that guidelines are needed to promote good grooming and hygiene, prevent disruptions, and minimize safety hazards, the mother contends neither the earring nor her student were disruptive. The school employee contacting her student during lunch was disruptive.

“It is not a disruption in today’s society,” Claypool said.

Claypool said student’s teachers reported he’s never caused disruptions. She also noted earrings have not been an issue in the months he’s worked in the office at school

She said her father, a 22-year Marine Corps veteran and international contractor for the military, noted the school district policy holds students to a higher standard than the military.

She said she is not asking the district for special attention for her youth, but does ask that the district amend its dress code to be inclusive to all students.

“That will give us food for thought as we move forward and I will be contacting you,” SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb told her.


Author: Faith Huffman

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