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Tuscaloosa County school board approves COVID-19 time off for teachers

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa County school board voted to approve paid time off for teachers who are dealing with coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the union representing those teachers called it a win because of the uncertainty he said they faced if they needed to take time off to care for themselves or members with the virus.

“The fact that we have school system that is willing to do the right thing by their employees, I think is commendable,” according to Rick Bailes.

Bailes is the director for the Alabama Education Association in the Tuscaloosa-area. Bailes said Tuscaloosa County school system employees are happy with the decision school board members approved this week. Now, all employees who test positive for COVID-19 will have up to 10 days of paid leave to isolate. Unvaccinated employees will also be provided paid leave to quarantine. But employees will not be given more than 10 days total to isolate and or quarantine.

“Their biggest concern was the fact they have to use their own sick leave to be out for themselves when they were being forced out because of quarantines or isolations,” Bailes continued.

Bailes added that federal and state money that school districts once had to compensate them when employees were unable to work is no longer available.

“COVID is not like anything that we’ve faced and we all know at some point we’ve got to get back to a normal or something resembling normalcy in schools,” Bailes concluded.

This approved COVID-19 time off in Tuscaloosa County schools started retroactive to the beginning of this school year. It will end October 31. The superintendent and board will review COVID-19 data before then to determine whether to extend this leave past that time.

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