Concordia Parish School Board adopts new COVID-19 policy for employees

Published 2:36 pm Saturday, September 11, 2021

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VIDALIA — A policy adopted Thursday by the Concordia Parish School Board allows teachers to receive up to 10 days paid leave for COVID-19, however, some officials said it is not enough.

A motion to approve the new policy passed by a majority vote of 5-1 with two members absent, Rickey Raven Sr. voting no and one abstention from board president Fred Butcher.

Before voting, board member Derrick Carsen said, “I am for it because of the hardship on our teachers, but I think (the policy) should be a work in progress.”

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Superintendent Toyua Watson said the extra 10 days is separate from the employee sick leave included with their benefits package.

However, if a teacher is required to quarantine for 10 days due to COVID-19 exposure more than once in a school year, the extra time off would eat into their regular paid leave.

Watson said the board follows Centers for Disease Control and Louisiana Department of Health guidance, which says teachers who are not vaccinated and are directly exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 10 days.

An exposure, she said, is considered to be when a person with COVID-19 is within three feet of another person and either one of them or both are unmasked.

Employees who are vaccinated are not technically required to quarantine after exposure unless they have symptoms, however the school district policy recommends that they quarantine for at least three days to see whether symptoms develop, Watson said.

“We realize that it’s not perfect and there are people who will take advantage of it,” Watson said of the policy while presenting it to the board. “Our teachers go through a lot and every day they are up in front of a classroom they put their lives on the line. This is our way of saying ‘I see you and I respect you and what you do.’”

As the board moved forward with the adoption of a policy for teachers, they also discussed revising the student’s COVID-19 policy to reduce the number of days they would have to isolate after testing being exposed from 14 to 10 as long as they do not have symptoms.

However, the board decided to table any action on changing the student policy until the districts could identify a clear strategy for monitoring students’ for symptoms of COVID-19.