MPS teachers, leaders debate temporary COVID-19 paid leave

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some teachers concerned with Montgomery Public Schools’ current paid COVID-19 leave policy expressed their frustrations at Thursday’s board meeting.

“Why was the timing of my earlier breakthrough case being treated differently?” Lamp High School math teacher Jordan Berry told the board.

He said he used seven sick days to cover his August absence after testing positive.

On Oct. 1, the school system began offering paid COVID-19 leave for teachers who are forced to quarantine. It will currently expire on Dec. 31.

The problem some teachers are having is they were forced to quarantine in August and September, and they want to be reimbursed.

“I have four children, and for me to have those days and not be paid for those days is really going to be detrimental for me for next month,” another teacher said.

Additionally, some question the December cap date. They say COVID-19 is unpredictable, and teachers should qualify for paid COVID-19 leave even past Dec. 31.

“I just don’t think there should be a cap on it, and I think this board has some hard things to consider, but we’re going to have to do better than this,” District 5 board member Jannah Bailey said, which was met by applause.

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Ann Roy Moore said a cap date is necessary.

“When we change our minds and redo something and we say we should just keep doing it, that there is no cap, eventually you might run out of money,” Moore said.

Regardless of the superintendent’s financial concern, she said the board will look into this.

“I want to say, we do care about our employees, but we do care about the system as a whole, and we do have to look at it holistically,” she said.

Without federal COVID-19 relief, Moore said it may be tricky. She believes the potential to extend COVID-19 leave would likely rely on local funding.

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