Being exposed to COVID-19 can be costly for Volusia County public-school teachers.
Teachers working in the classroom are required to quarantine for 10 days if they are notified that they’ve been exposed to a student or staff member who tests positive for the virus. But the teachers must use their own personal sick days for five of those 10 involuntary days off.
Students and teachers have the same guidelines for either being exposed to, or testing positive for COVID-19: Stay home for 10 days.
Students may have assignments to work on from home if they’re feeling up to it, and are granted time for makeup work when they return.
Last year, Volusia’s teachers were granted 10 paid sick days away from school while in quarantine, thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Problem is, that fund expired at the end of 2020.
Now using money granted to the district by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, Volusia County Schools pays teachers for five days of quarantine, while the other five must come from their own paid sick days.
According to the 2019 teacher’s handbook, one sick day is accumulated per month of a teacher’s employment, from the time they are hired. There is no upper limit on sick days.
The district is expected to receive more stimulus money soon, thanks to the December spending bill passed in Washington, D.C.
While it is still unclear how much the school district will receive, Volusia County Schools Chief Financial Officer Debra Muller said the district would like to do something about quarantine leave.
“I know there are people who have been out numerous times for quarantine,” she said. “It’s just a really odd time for everyone.”
There is nothing official to announce yet, though.
Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert said she hopes to see improvements in how schools handle quarantine, such as allowing teachers to teach from home.
“If we, as a human race, are able to put a man on the moon, why can’t we figure this out?” Albert asked. “There has to be a mechanism to interface with teachers remotely. It’s time to move on additional leave days.”
She expressed hope that the stimulus funds will help.
“If the numbers come in the way we expect them to, I think we can probably look at another 10 days,” Albert said.