NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Teachers in the classroom are facing yet another hurdle. During a Metro Nashville School Board meeting on Tuesday, board members expressed concerns about teachers having to choose between testing positive for COVID-19 and potentially running out of sick days.
“We have so many opportunities to be proactive, this is in our headlights. We can see that this is coming,” explained Sara Duran, with the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA). “If a teacher is not feeling well and they don’t have any more sick days, there’s a chance they may not test at all because then they would be eating through the very little sick days that they have.”
The MNEA advocates for teachers and staff, and says it has become a growing problem.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of new teachers to the district, and some of them are brand new, some of them have transferred from out of state, of course, those people have not had time to accumulate sick days,” Duran explained.
During Tuesday night’s MNPS Board meeting, board member Abigail Tylor spoke up about her concerns for educators moving forward.
“Our number of teachers that are out due to COVID remains high, and unfortunately the state made that law that those teachers cannot work remotely,” she said.
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According to the district COVID-19 tracker, last week, the district reported more than 100 teachers had tested positive for the virus; however, while the spread is a concern, Tylor focused on what happens next in the process. She questioned what options teachers have when they are not experiencing any symptoms and are willing to work.
“That means our teachers that contract COVID after Labor Day will have to use their sick days, even if they’re feeling well enough to work,” Tylor explained.
Right now, the CDC recommends a five-day quarantine period for those who test positive, regardless of the person’s symptoms. Now, the worry is around teachers being forced to use up their sick days or come out of pocket.
“It becomes especially problematic when a COVID positive teacher, who feels fine is out of sick days, then they have to actively lose money from their pay for a sub to come into their room,” Tylor said to the board.
Tylor concluded the session agreeing with Dr. Adrienne Battle that a plan should be in place before the current policy is set to sunset in September.