Keller ISD board approves retention payments, extra paid COVID-19 sick leave for employees

The 40 additional hours of COVID-19 sick leave approved on Jan. 24 are on top of the 80 hours approved Aug. 23, bringing the now-total number of COVID-19 sick leave hours for the 2021-2022 school year to 120. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)
The 40 additional hours of COVID-19 sick leave approved on Jan. 24 are on top of the 80 hours approved Aug. 23, bringing the now-total number of COVID-19 sick leave hours for the 2021-2022 school year to 120. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)

The 40 additional hours of COVID-19 sick leave approved on Jan. 24 are on top of the 80 hours approved Aug. 23, bringing the now-total number of COVID-19 sick leave hours for the 2021-2022 school year to 120. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Keller ISD board of trustees approved a $1,000 one-time retention payment for all full-time employees and additional COVID-19 sick leave at its Jan. 24 meeting.

The $1,000 payment will be available for all full-time employees who are on payroll beginning Jan. 24, 2022, to when the payments are disbursed in February, according to the resolution’s cover sheet. A date in February was not specified at the meeting.

The purpose of the now-approved retention payment is to keep current employees, improve student outcomes, remediate student learning loss, promote staff morale, show appreciation and “properly award” employees for working “under the additional hardships caused by the pandemic,” according to a staff memo.

“The long-term impact of the pandemic on school operations has led to teachers who are stretched thinner than I've ever seen in my career,” Keller ISD Superintendent Rick Westfall said. “And we are witnessing higher than normal rates of attrition and teacher shortages around the state.”

In addition, the board decided to give employees an additional 40 hours of paid COVID-19 sick leave for the 2021-22 school year, according to the memo. The additional sick leave is to be used if an employee gets reinfected and tests positive for a second time. The sick leave does not cover illness of family members, according to the district.


On Aug. 23, the Keller ISD board adopted a resolution that gave employees 80 hours of additional paid sick leave to use for their own test-confirmed COVID-19 absences, according to the district’s website. The 40 hours of paid COVID-19 sick leave approved on Jan. 24 are on top of those approved Aug. 23, bringing the total number of COVID-19 sick leave hours available to staff for the 2021-22 school year to 120.

The additional sick leave was needed because of the high levels of transmission of COVID-19 throughout the community, as some employees have now tested positive more than once during the school year, the memo stated.

COVID-19 transmission prompted the district to temporarily close two schools—Bear Creek Intermediate School and North Riverside Elementary School—on Jan. 14.

“This means employees who test positive twice could access up to 120 hours of paid leave, which amounted to 15 days,” Westfall said.
By Bailey Lewis
Bailey Lewis covers the cities of Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake, as well as Keller, Roanoke, Westlake, Trophy Club and northeast Fort Worth. In December 2020, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her Bachelor's degree in journalism. Previously, she worked and interned for various publications, such as Local Profile, the OU Daily, Malheur Enterprise and News21. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her cat and watching documentaries.