Madison school board approves temporary plan to reinstate COVID-19 leave for employees

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Board of Education on Monday approved a plan to temporarily reinstate COVID-19-specific leave for benefits-eligible employees within the Madison Metropolitan School District, more than three months after the district ended the practice.

The plan the school board approved gives employees five days of COVID-19 sick leave and two mental health days. None of those days would accrue, roll over or pay out if an employee leaves the district.

Without a specific leave balance for COVID-19, staff members who test positive for the virus, are a close contact or need to quarantine would have to use personal paid time off.

School Board Clerk Nicki Vander Meulen, who has pushed for COVID leave to be reinstated, said she wants to see a long-term solution put forth in addition to Monday’s short-term plan.

“Right now, our staff is hurting. We need to do something, we need to do something now,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins said currently the COVID leave will only be retroactive for employees who have a zero or negative personal paid time off balance. The issue could be revisited in a future meeting.

Monday’s special board meeting came on the same day that students returned to in-person learning following winter break. Rising COVID-19 cases led the district to delay students’ return and switch to virtual learning for two days last week.

Madison Teachers, Inc., the union representing Madison teachers, included the restoration of COVID leave in its list of requests before students returned to the classroom.