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With the coronavirus pandemic continuing on an upswing, the School Board approved on Jan. 11 to extend benefits to system employees who contract COVID-19 or have to be quarantined because of it.

The affected employees have been entitled to benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

With the extension, they will be entitled to the benefits from Dec. 31, 2020, until May 28.

Linda Foster, human resources supervisor, said that, in some cases, the benefits have been the only way some of the employees and their families have been able to get by financially while having to deal directly or indirectly with COVID-19.

Employees are entitled to up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework because they are ordered to quarantine, are self-quarantining, have experienced coronavirus-related symptoms or have been caring for someone with the disease.

The COVID leave is in addition to any paid leave the employees are entitled to.

Foster said if employees had used their sick leave up and weren’t entitled to the COVID relief, they would be without compensation, and it would be a financial hardship.