ELLSWORTH, Wis. -- The School Board discussed COVID leave pay for staff members and next year’s academic calendar during the Dec. 14 board meeting.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, school district employees are eligible for paid leave if they were to contract COVID-19 or quarantined as a result of close contact with someone who had contracted the virus. As of now, that federal legislation is set to expire on Dec. 31, leaving district employees in limbo on what happens if they were required to miss any work related to COVID. To prevent that from happening, the board approved a proposal brought up by the district to replace FFCRA in the event that no future legislation is passed.

So what does that mean for district staff? In essence, it means that staff will remain eligible to receive payment for missed time up to 10 days, whether or not FFCRA is extended once the district returns from winter break. There are caveats, however.

First, and Superintendent Barry Cain emphasized the importance of it, staff designated as a close contact must have their case related to their job to be eligible for paid leave. If the case is not job-related, then staff would need to use accrued leave time. Staff members who are able to work remotely will also be allowed to do so at the discretion of the district.

“If we were unable to identify a direct source of staff contracting COVID while working or they were not following COVID protocols, then they would have to use their own leave,” Cain said. “Also, any employee who has already used up the 10 days of COVID leave would be expected to use their own leave.”

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2021-2022 academic calendar approved

The 2021-22 district calendar was also approved during the meeting. Highlights for the upcoming year include:

  • Interim session days will be Aug. 24-26

  • First day of school will be Sept. 1

  • Winter break will be Thursday, Dec. 23-Sunday, Jan. 2.

  • Spring break will be March 7-11

  • The last day of school is slated for June 1