Lewis County Education Association (LCEA) President Kim Bonnett was contacted by members all over the county who are frustrated with COVID working conditions. President Bonnett then reviewed the COVID relief plan and funding. In September 2021, she met with Superintendent Dr. Robin Lewis to ask for some relief for staff. “Members were working even harder due to the lack of subs, educational gaps created because of COVID, extra cleaning still required due to COVID, and creating dual (virtual and in-person) lesson plans because of so many students being quarantined,” said Bonnett. She continued, “We asked for a day off every other week to accommodate extra planning, cleaning, and to catch our breath. We also asked for the county to reinstate the COVID leave policy.”
Bonnett added, “Dr. Lewis was adamant that we could not have extra days off because we would not meet our 180 day threshold. She agreed to make our Faculty Senate days freer for staff to meet our needs, but wouldn’t budge on the COVID leave.” President Bonnett was persistent in her efforts. She started by reviewing the counties COVID Relief Act funding plan to determine what the plan was to provide for employees. Bonnett brought to the superintendent’s attention if staff would have been included as stakeholders, as required, in planning to use the ESSERF funds we could have planned for the COVID relief. Superintendent Lewis would not budge, so LCEA members started speaking to the Board members. This is when the Board decided to set up the committee and later approved the COVID leave and other proposals. The committee consists of the following LCEA members: Lisa Arnold, Carrie Davis, Rita Barnette, Wanda Lake, Lori Hill, and Alicia Tinney. The result of this hard work was a policy that provided for COVID-related leave that would not be counted against the affected member’s annual personal leave.