GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Seven days into the school year and the Greenville County School District has hundreds of staff and students out of school either isolating or quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure. Plans are now in the works through the county to get staff and students back into the classroom quicker and to address any additional major COVID-hardships the district is experiencing.
Tuesday night, the Greenville County School Board approved a plan that would allocate $5.5 million dollars in ESSER funds to address any Coronavirus issues schools are currently facing, including paid sick time, staffing shortages, and more.
For starters, teachers will now receive 80 hours of COVID paid-leave through August of 2022. This funding used to come through the CARES Act but expired on December 31st of last year. Tuesday night the board voted in favor of designating $3.8 million dollars toward that initiative. The total cost of COVID Leave (including salary and fringe) for FY 21 was $3.8 Million.
The other money included in the $5.5 million would redesigne $1.1 million dollars for permanent substitutes. There would be one provided at each of the 27 school locations with the highest rates of unfilled substitute requests.
Finally, the school wants to cut down on quarantine time for staff and students.
Right now, if you’re not vaccinated and you are exposed to a case, you have to quarantine for ten days. An option to shorten that ten day stretch is a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test given within a specific time window. According to Tuesday night’s meeting, a staff or student would be tested within the five to seven day range and if their results came back negative, they’d be able to return on day 8.
This method currently applies to teachers, but the load work tracking down quarantines and data has become excessive. The county approved Tuesday night to use $600,000-dollars to hire staff that would track the data for the school.
According to the agenda, ‘to provide temporary personnel and/or contract services for interpretation and recording of PCR test results for students and employees, tracking and analysis of quarantines and isolations, and ESSER funding compliance.”
This comes as nearly 1700 staff and students as of Tuesday are either in isolation or at home in quarantine. The board released data Tuesday night that showed roughly 1500 students were impacted, more than 150 teachers.
To learn more about how the county plans to use it’s funding, click here.