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LRSD ends COVID-19 paid leave policy for employees, district looking at options

"Going forward if they have to quarantine or be out for COVID related reasons, at this time, they would use their own sick time."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For months, Little Rock School District employees have had the ability to use specified paid sick leave if they contract COVID-19 or if they're identified as a close contact to someone who had the virus.

That all changed on July 1st. 

"I think the initial shock is happening because it's being taken away," Vicki Hatter, President of the LRSD school board, said. "Board members reached out right to the district saying what all can be done to provide coverage."

Now employees will be required to use personal leave, vacation, sick time, or leave without pay during that time.

"Going forward if they have to quarantine or be out for COVID related reasons, at this time, they would use their own sick time," Hatter said.

Employees were notified via email of the changes on July 1st.

Hatter said this is something that will obviously affect employees but will also affect people district-wide.

"To see what all we can do. To where we are within the law, but where we are providing protection," Hatter said. "Not only to our staff with more COVID leave but also to our entire district."

Of course, there are other factors to keep in mind. COVID-19 cases are still rising throughout the state.

"Right now, we're dealing with the Delta variant of COVID," Hatter said.

But that's something Hatter said that she and the district are working on.

"So right now, what is factual, is that the district is looking into ways to provide coverage," Hatter said.

Hatter said the options that the district will bring forward aren't super clear and that she doesn't want to speculate or spread misinformation – but she does know one thing.

She said whatever the options are, it'll have to be whatever is best for employees.

"Staying optimistic but yet realistic is going to be really important, not only for entities but for persons," Hatter said. "To make sure we are doing everything we can to safeguard ourselves and our staff."

Hatter said that the district will bring their options to the board at their meeting on July 22.