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IW schools to extend COVID benefits

Isle of Wight County Schools will continue to provide paid leave for employees who are absent due to COVID-related issues.

The paid leave was funded by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and expired on Dec. 31, 2020 but the school division is extending the benefits to employees through the remainder of the current school year.

“We recognize the challenges our employees are facing as they find themselves caring for family members as well as themselves during this health crisis,” said Superintendent Jim Thornton. “Continuing these benefits by funding the paid leave through our current budget is the right thing to do. We hope this action will alleviate possible anxiety and worry over taking leave due to COVID-19 reasons.”

In a Jan. 26 announcement, the school division said it will process each request for leave on an individual basis. Employees are eligible to receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if they’re unable to work because of self-quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 or if they’re seeking a medical diagnosis due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Employees are eligible to receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay in the event they are unable to work because of caring for someone who is self-quarantining or isolating or caring for a child whose school or daycare provider is closed due to matters related to COVID-19.

Finally, the employee is also entitled to 10 additional weeks of paid leave under the expanded federal Family and Medical Leave Act at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay rate if the employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed for reasons related to COVID-19.

As of Jan. 27, the division had 664 full-time and 49 part-time employees, said spokeswoman Lynn Briggs.