CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — The Anderson County School Board approved an extra ten sick days specifically for COVID-19 related reasons.
Ryan Sutton, the district spokesperson, said district leaders knew with the rising COVID-19 cases something needed to be in place so teachers wouldn’t feel obligated to come to school if they were awaiting a COVID-19 test or if they got COVID-19.
“We are trying through this document to keep everybody in school as much as they can, but also to make sure we maintain a safe environment for all of our students, our staff and our teachers,” Sutton said.
That document states the following:
- If teachers are required to quarantine and/ or isolate because they test positive for COVID, they will be paid regular pay and will not be required to use sick days for up to 10 days.
- If staff is required to isolate because they are waiting on the results of a PCR test, they will be paid and will not be charged sick time. (Up to 10 days)
- As an essential employee, not experiencing any symptoms and being a close contact with a positive case, staff will be required to return to work wearing a mask and get tested on or by day four after they were last in close contact with a COVID-19 case. If negative, you must retest 3 days later.
- If staff is required to quarantine and/ or isolate because of a household contact, they will be required to use sick days.
The goal is to make sure no staff stays home without pay, according to Sutton.
Sutton said the new protocol follows closely to what the state provided last year — when the state allotted extra sick days due to teachers having to quarantine for being exposed.
According to CDC guidelines, someone who is fully vaccinated and was exposed but not showing any symptoms wouldn’t need to quarantine. They would only need to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They should isolate if they test positive.
He said the procedures will be extremely helpful for new teachers, who don’t have a lot of sick time accrued.
“One illness or one contact trace may wipe out their entire sick bank, and that’s not good for anybody, because especially during a pandemic, they don’t need to be here if they are sick, because you could transmit it even more and it effects even more individuals,” Sutton said.
Sutton said the extra sick days should give teachers some security.
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D- Knoxville, said she’s working on legislature so all schools can have something like what ACS has in place for its staff.
“Teachers shouldn’t be penalized when they’re thrown into a dangerous situation anyway. You know, they’re thrown into classrooms without requiring masks and risking their health and that of their families and the students, and then they’re paying for it out of their own pocket on top of it,” Johnson said.
Her legislation would ensure that no teacher loses a single sick day, and doesn’t take a day without pay due to contracting COVID-19 from the classroom. Johnson said it would also include essentially backpay if teachers lost any sick days due to COVID-19 since the pandemic started.
Her legislation is still in the early stages. She said she just sent a draft to legal this week, and unless there was a special session, it wouldn’t be voted on until the general assembly meets in January.
Sutton said that without the allotted days coming down from the state, his district took steps to ensure their kids and staff would be safe.
“That gives them a little bit more security in that, coming to work sick, or coming to work after they’ve been contact traced, because they don’t have any sick time, this plan actually gives them the ability to take that time off if they need it for the test results, for their child and all the other things that they might run into with COVID-19,” Sutton said.
He said it was important for his staff to know they were appreciated.
“We want to push in Anderson County that we’re a family, and we want to treat our employees like we would want to be treated,” Sutton said.
The protocols for ACS end Dec. 31.