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Halifax County trustees revamp policy on paid leave for isolating staff, ink deal for land / October 18, 2021
The Halifax County School Board took action on several items at Thursday night’s monthly meeting in Halifax. Highlights of the meeting include:

» Trustees voted unanimously to offer 10 days paid leave, one time only, to all school personnel who are forced to quarantine at home due to covid exposure. The board acted at the suggestion of ED-7 trustee Keith McDowell, who said Halifax’s existing policy fell short of what other nearby school divisions offer to employees who are exposed to the virus.

Halifax has been paying 10 days of leave for teachers and school staff who are vaccinated but develop breakthrough cases of COVID-19, said Valdivia Hall, assistant superintendent and human resources director. Employees who are unvaccinated have been allowed to claim sick days so they will continue to draw salary while they are out in isolation.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg said the school board’s attorney advised that the arrangement is legal, because both sets of employees — vaccinated and unvaccinated — receive benefits under the policy. For vaccinated employees, the benefit is paid leave; for unvaccinated employees, it’s the option of claiming sick days to continue receiving pay.

Tina Slabach, the school division’s head nurse, said fewer than five school employees have developed breakthrough COVID-19 cases, compared to dozens of infections involving unvaccinated employees. As of mid-last week, the school division reported 155 student and employee cases of COVID-19 since schools opened in early September, Slabach said.

At the Thursday meeting, she said 259 students and nine employees are currently isolating at home.

Hall explained that the policy regarding paid leave is meant to incentivize employees to get vaccinated, but McDowell said Halifax’s policy is stingier than that of Mecklenburg and other nearby divisions that pay employees who have been exposed or sickened, regardless of vaccination status.

“I say, vaccinated, unvaccinated, you’re discriminating against the latter,” McDowell said. “Let’s these people up to 10 days when they’re out.”

Although ED-8 trustee Walter Potts chimed in that “if you don’t want to be vaccinated, it should be tough luck,” he and all other board members voted for the 10-day paid leave policy for all employees, after a motion by McDowell and a second by ED-4 trustee Jay Camp.

» By a 4-3 vote, the School Board agreed to purchase the Powell property adjoining the high school for $380,000, minus $4,000 the school division previously paid towards the acquisition. The School Board voted in August to buy the tract, which can be used as a construction staging area for renovations to the high school, or as part of the footprint of a new school building.

Voting to accept the counter offer on the land were Potts, Sandra Garner-Coleman, Roy Keith Lloyd and Freddie Edmunds. McDowell, Camp and board chair Kathy Fraley voted no.

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ok. why would we build a school in the same crappy place that lacks space for adequate athletic fields?????
this is asinine to continue down the path towards putting our posterity into major debt by shortsighted individuals
put that $100mil towards broadband and then think of what education will be like in the future and build accordingly

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