COVID coping: Schools continue to adjust


Between Sept. 22 and Sept. 27, seven county students and six school system employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to alerts posted on the division’s website.

Meanwhile, the school board agreed Sept. 22 to provide additional paid sick leave days to teachers and staff members, following complaints that personnel had been using up their accrued sick time for virus-related absences.

Also, Superintendent Haydee Robinson announced that the division was about to begin providing onsite COVID testing.


According to website alerts:

• As of Sept. 27: Two Clintwood Elementary School staff members had tested positive; two Ridgeview High students tested positive, one of whom had been in quarantine; and two Ridgeview Middle School students tested positive.

• As of Sept. 23: One Ridgeview Middle student and two Ridgeview High students had tested positive.

• As of Sept. 22: Two division support staff had tested positive, along with one Ridgeview Middle staff member and one Clintwood Elementary staff member.


Following expressions of concern at the August meeting, the school board last week approved paid sick leave of up to 10 days from Aug. 1 to Dec. 17.

Before the vote, Robinson explained that administration had reviewed the status of emergency paid leave and its potential implementation in the current school year.

They found that from April 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021, nearly $64,500 of emergency sick leave wages was paid. With the addition of withholdings, the total cost was nearly $69,400.

Slightly more than $66,200 was eligible for reimbursement through the federal ESSER I or ESSER II pandemic funds, she said, meaning nearly $3,200 was paid from state or local funds.

Emergency paid sick leave had not been paid since April 30 of this year. Approving additional paid leave would require shifting about $6,500 per month, or $32,500, from other budgeted items, Robinson noted.

The board approved administration’s recommendation for up to 10 days of paid leave. Member Jamie Hackney was not able to attend the meeting because of a family emergency.

Robinson noted that the division has been scrambling to get everything done because COVID cases have left it short-staffed, from custodians and bus drivers to teachers. Employees are going beyond normal expectations to make it work, she said.

Also, Robinson said the following week, the school system would be able to offer no-cost COVID testing to students and staff onsite, through a partnership with the health department. Previously, many people have had to go to urgent care or other facilities to get a test, she said.