LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — CARES Act money that gave Arkansas teachers paid COVID-19 sick leave has expired.
There’s no money left at the state level right now, so if a teacher can’t work because of COVID-related issues, they’ll have to use their regular sick leave or personal leave.
When school started in August, Arkansas teachers were given two weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-related issues.
Though that money is gone, the Arkansas Department of Education is working with districts to come up with solutions, saying more federal stimulus money is on the way for schools.
But some parents say this should have been thought out before school started back up.
An email from Human Resources at the Little Rock School District making its rounds on social media.
Some LRSD parents like Veronica McClane are outraged and worried some teachers may come to school sick because they just can’t afford not to.
“I’m getting reports from teachers that that’s happening already because people, they’ve already exhausted leave,” McClane said.
McClane said the state is asking teachers to work in dangerous situations that could result in them losing pay.
“Teachers don’t make a lot of money, so one missed paycheck can put them into being unhoused, it can put them into not having food, lots and lots of things,” McClane said. “It’s not good.”
McClane admits there’s not a blanket answer for everyone’s situation; she’d just like to see the teachers have some options.
“It’s time for us to consider, you know, maybe we do need to pay some people to stay home,” McClane said.
LRSD administration is considering possible proposals regarding teacher COVID-19 paid leave.
They’ll present that to the school board for approval.
In a statement, Zone 9 school board member Jeff Wood said:
“Any time I have the opportunity, I will advocate for fair and flexible COVID-related sick leave being afforded to all of LRSD’s staff. We are asking for a lot from our staff right now and they need to see and feel our appreciation. Fair and flexible COVID-related sick leave is one way we can do that.”
We reached out to the administration at the Little Rock School District about this issue and what proposals they’re considering.
A spokesperson said they wanted to talk to us about this issue, but just couldn’t today.
We’ll stay on top of it to see what they come up with and what the plan is moving forward.