New Braunfels, Comal ISDs split over COVID-19 leave policy

Some school district employees are able to continue working remotely while quarantined. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some school district employees are able to continue working remotely while quarantined. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Some school district employees are able to continue working remotely while quarantined. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Employees of New Braunfels ISD will no longer have access to an additional two weeks of paid leave for reasons directly related to COVID-19, but the option remains open to Comal ISD employees.

Between April 1-Dec. 31, NBISD and CISD were required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to offer employees up to an additional one-time 80 hours paid leave if they needed to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.

The mandate also provided for 80 hours of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate due to a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine or a child who cannot attend child care or school because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the mandate expired Dec. 31, school districts were given the option to extend the program. The NBISD board of trustees elected Jan. 11 not to extend the option, though employees who are able to work remotely will be permitted to do so should they or a family member be required to quarantine.

“The more difficult pieces of that some of our employees who make the smallest salaries are very dependent upon being here, for example our custodians,” NBISD Superintendent Randy Moczygemba said at the board meeting. “They can’t do their job at home, and so these things probably hit them harder."

According to the district, each case will be evaluated individually, and those who cannot conduct their work remotely must use available state or local leave or take time off without pay.

Out of 1,209 district employees, only 130 utilized the benefit before Dec. 31. When a teacher was out of the classroom but still able to teach remotely, supplemental substitutes were brought in to manage students during class.

The district paid a total of $104,000 of sick leave and nearly $30,000 for supplemental substitutes, none of which will be reimbursed by the state or federal government.

On Jan. 28, the CISD board of trustees elected to extend the program to their more than 2,900 employees through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

Since the program began, 250 CISD employees have utilized the option, according to the district, accounting for more than 1,650 days of emergency paid sick leave that have been utilized.

“Teachers truly have been on the front lines and I think this is the least we can do to support them,” board member Russell Garner said at the meeting.

The district plans to fund the program through its COVID-19 supplemental leave bank, which was approved by the board in August.
By Lauren Canterberry
Lauren began covering New Braunfels for Community Impact Newspaper in 2019. Her reporting focuses on education, development, breaking news and community interest stories. Lauren is originally from South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.


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