OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Some school districts are finding ways to provide COVID-19 leave for teachers who test positive for COVID-19 or have a close contact exposure, while other districts are requiring their teachers use personal time.
“Last year the federal government provided 80 hours of COVID leave, but that expired in December,” Katherine Bishop, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said.
This school year, as the delta variant continues to plague Oklahoma schools, many teachers are worried about that lack of COVID-leave.
A Putnam City schools employee sent KFOR the following email earlier this week:
“Maybe should do a story on how NO district in the state of Oklahoma is providing any covid pay/leave for their teachers and support staff this year.
Last year we received at least 14 days of covid pay that if we were exposed or caught it then the covid pay would be used first before using our own sick days that we have.
Of course most districts say if you are exposed and have the vaccine you don’t have to quarantine. Thats great!! But not only students but teachers are catching this too even after the vaccine.
Don’t be surprised if it comes down to a strike of teachers refusing to go to work and only do virtual OR teachers wind up still reporting to work even when sick because they have used up all their sick leave and will be docked for it especially support staff.
I think that’s a story to cover of why schools are not offering anything this year.”
“It’s a very fluid situation. What we’re hearing is [that] districts are addressing it as the needs come to them,” Bishop said.
One of those districts is Mid-Del Public Schools.
“We changed our policy last week to allow for COVID leave because of what we were seeing, with our staff either being quarantined or testing positive,” Dr. Rick Cobb, Mid-Del superintendent, told KFOR.
According to their new COVID-leave guidelines, employees will receive up to eight days of administrative COVID-leave if they test positive or if they have a close contact exposure, as long as they’ve been vaccinated and were exposed in the workplace. Their positive test results also have to be verified.
“We didn’t want to send people home and have them deplete their leave balances, if that was the situation that could have occurred,” Dr. Cobb said.
KFOR checked with several other local districts.
Deer Creek schools has a similar policy.
Officials with Putnam City schools told News 4, “The federal government discontinued COVID leave time in December.”
Officials with OKCPS said, “At this time, we are not offering COVID-19 leave.”
“This is just something that’s the right thing to do. If teachers are out and we have to pay more for the substitutes right now, then that’s what we have to do,” Dr. Cobb said.