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In its regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 18, the Maquoketa Valley Board of Education unanimously agreed to extend the District’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Policy under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The FFCRA’s paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements expired Dec. 31, 2020, meaning employers will no longer be legally required to provide such leave, but may do so voluntarily until March 31, 2021.

Currently, full-time employees are eligible for two weeks of leave capped at 80 hours paid at the employee’s full compensation rate. Part-time employees are eligible for the average number of hours over a typical two week period.

Superintendent Dave Hoeger explained extending the policy will benefit staff members, especially younger employees who may not have a significant amount of sick leave.

“There has been a lot of discussion in Iowa whether schools should extend this voluntarily. Whether we extend this or not, if we have a staff member that needs to quarantine, our expense stays the same. We still need to hire a sub,” Hoeger said. “The difference here is whether we take the sick leave out of that teacher’s sick leave bank or not. If we extend this leave, it will be covered by us. If we don’t extend the leave it comes out of the individual teacher’s sick leave.”

Business Manager Erika Imler told the board, “We have been funding the subs with COVID (money). They continue to get paid with general fund dollars as they normally would. We just don’t take the leave from their sick leave.”

“We need to cover this,” board member John Zietlow said.

After discussion, Hoeger said the administration and board would evaluate further in March.

In other business, the following personnel recommendations were approved: Julie Kloser — employed as Earlville paraprofessional; Ron Besler — employed as high school boys golf coach; Brandy Wittenbaugh — resignation as head high school volleyball coach; Melissa Dutra — resignation as high school assistant volleyball coach.

A facility rental agreement was approved for the Iowa Prep Rivalry Saturday event Jan. 30. Five girls’ basketball games will be held at Maquoketa Valley that day according to MV coach Scot Moenck.

The board reviewed and approved the 2021-22 High School Course Catalog and adopted a budget resolution for the fiscal year 2022. Board Policy Series 500 — Guiding Principles for Students — was reviewed and approved.

Hoeger also updated the board on new rules pertaining to participation in school activities. Due to COVID-19’s impact on student achievement in many districts throughout the state, academic requirements are waived for the remainder of the school year. Students failing a class will not be required to sit out and will retain eligibility to participate in athletics, music and speech.