Board approves COVID-19 leave policy with vaccination requirement

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met this week, Lansing Board of Education members approved an agreement that offers COVID-19 leave for teachers who are vaccinated against the disease.

Superintendent Dan Wessel acknowledged some people may object to the condition that employees be vaccinated in order to take advantage of the additional leave.

"This will be controversial and I have had some questions about that," he said.

Board members discussed the policy as they considered a memorandum of understanding between the school district and Lansing Education Association teachers union.

The memorandum of understanding concerning the COVID-19 policy was approved by the board by a 4-3 vote. Board members John Dalbey, Pete Robinson and Michelle McQuillan voted against the motion.

According to the MOU, teachers can be granted 10 paid days of leave for circumstances related to COVID-19. After using up these 10 days, teachers will be charged half a day of their regular sick days for each day they remain on leave.

Teachers can be eligible for the additional leave if they are placed in quarantine or isolation. The policy also applies to teachers who have been advised by doctors to self-quarantine.

Teachers also can be eligible for the additional paid leave if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnoses. The policy also applies to teachers who are taking care of people who have been placed in quarantine or family members who are sick because of COVID-19.

In order to take advantage of the COVID-19 leave policy, teachers must remain fully vaccinated.

Wessel said teachers who do not qualify for the COVID-19 leave still have their regular allotted number of sick days.

The MOU concerned only teachers, but Wessel said he intends to extend the policy to other staff members.

Dalbey argued the policy discriminates against employees who are not vaccinated for COVID-19. He said there are a lot of reasons why people do not take one of the available vaccines.

Wessel said the provision helps protect the district. He said it will help limit access and ensure the district has adequate staffing.

He said it can be difficult to find substitutes and cover things when the leave is offered to everyone.

The superintendent said the district had a COVID-19 leave policy last year, and he thinks there was some abuse.

Wessel said exemptions may be granted to employees who are not vaccinated. He said these exclusions will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Lansing Board of Education:

• Approved the school district's 2021-2022 budget. The budget has net budgeted expenditures totaling $38.35 million.

• Approved a statement regarding critical race theory that was prepared by Superintendent Dan Wessel.

Board members discussed the statement when they met last month but failed to approve it at that time.

During Monday's meeting, Lansing Middle School Principal Brooks Jenkins discussed a book that is used for a club at the school. The book received criticism during last month's school board meeting as part of the discussion about critical race theory.