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Hall school board approves COVID relief for staff, increases priority substitute teacher numbers
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Some Riverbend Elementary students attend classes Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, as Hall County Schools return to in-person learning on a hybrid schedule. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Hall County school board voted unanimously Monday, Jan. 25, to allow up to 10 days of paid sick leave for COVID-19-related absences among school staff. 

Brad Brown, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, offered the proposal before the board, explaining that the relief for employees would come from CARES Act funds. 

Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said he supports the allocation of funds because he knows of young teachers who don’t have sick leave and teachers with underlying health conditions who are out of sick leave. 

“For those individuals, if they’re quarantined and cannot work from home, that would be 10 days of no pay,” he said. “There are a lot of people that can’t take 10 days without pay.”

Schofield said the 10 days of pay could also help deter staff from working at school when they feel slightly ill, only later to find out they have COVID-19.

“No. 1, I think it is solid practice in terms of supporting our team members,” Schofield said. “No. 2, I believe it is safe practice. No. 3, I’m very thankful that we have some CARES relief funds to cover COVID for up to 10 days.”

The superintendent reminded the board that this doesn’t mean everyone receives an extra 10 days of paid time off, but that staff can use it if they need it. 

The school board also unanimously approved extending the number of priority substitute teachers per school. These are the substitutes who consistently work certain days a week. 

Stan Lewis, Hall’s spokesperson, said the amount of priority substitutes can now double in size.

Brown added that these teachers have proved “an incredible value” to the district.

“They’ve brought so much to our team, it would be hard to fill all vacancies without them,” he said. 

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