GCS Clarifies Absentee Policies and Gives a Bonus to Teachers

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Thank you to Derek Lewis for providing these important updates from the Greenville County School meeting on January 12, 2021. This information was originally published on Derek’s Facebook page and is republished here with permission.

About Derek Lewis: Derek Lewis serves as a member of the Greenville County School board. Derek is also the Executive Director of Greenville First Steps, a non profit that funds programs to help parents and caregivers prepare children for Kindergarten. Derek’s is in his 6th year on the board, and represents Greenville School District area 24- which includes Augusta Road, Gower and Maudlin areas of Greenville County. Derek’s wife Hedrick teaches 5K at Berea Elementary school and his son, William, is in 4th grade at Augusta Circle elementary. Derek also serves as the chair of the School Board Advocacy committee- which helps to inform and shape public policy around education issues at the state and federal level.

School Absences

I have been contacted by parents who want to know what penalty would exist should a family who opted for Face to Face instruction decide to keep their students home for a week or two as county infection rates rise. The District has clarified that a student may miss school without an excuse for up to 10 days. And, if a student misses more than 10 days, the Administration from the school is granted the authority to review those circumstances on a case by case basis. So, a parent could keep their students home for 2 weeks, waiting for infection numbers in the County to drop, and not have a penalty to that student.

Extension of EFMLA

The 2020 CARES ACT provided up to 80 hours of paid leave for any employee who has a Covid-19 related absence (either from exposure at work or outside of work, or the exposure of a family member). This additional coverage allowed an employee to take this leave without using his/her sick leave. The 2020 CARES ACT EFMLA coverage ended on Dec 31, 2020. We hoped the CARES II bill would include an extension of this coverage. It did not, leaving our employees without this valuable protection. The Greenville School Board unanimously approved the recommendation from the Administration that we locally support our staff with a LOCAL extension of EFMLA through August 31, 2021 (and retroactive to cover any EFMLA eligible leave that occurred in January prior to this action).

Employee Bonus

Recognizing the extraordinary challenges our employees have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Board unanimously approved a one-time bonus of $1,000 for ALL salaried GCS exempt personnel and $100 for all adjunct personnel. This action, with its $9.4m price tag, will be funded through fund-balance currently held in reserve from cost savings realized through the District over the past year, expenses from the 2020-2021 budget that were frozen in June by the Board, and from 2020 CARES ACT funding.

About the Author
Bethany Winston is the owner and editor-in-chief of Kidding Around Greenville & Kidding Around Spartanburg. She enjoys exploring parks, discovering local events, and meeting the people who make Greenville an amazing place to live. You can contact her directly at [email protected].

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