Loudon County Board of Education will consider Thursday providing relief to employees who test positive for COVID-19.

Mike Garren, Loudon County director of schools, recommended the action during last week’s school board workshop.

The policy would give employees up to 10 paid days if they test positive for COVID-19. Staff would receive regular pay for those days rather than having to use sick leave.

Garren said 10-12 teachers have tested positive for COVID in a month. Classes started Aug. 9.

Teachers normally build up 10 sick days per year, but a few new teachers with no sick leave have tested positive and were forced to use unpaid leave.

The relief would apply to full- and part-time employees regardless of vaccination status.

Some school districts in Tennessee, including Anderson County and Metro Nashville, are providing staff additional paid sick days for COVID-related reasons, although Nashville is providing the leave only to employees who have been vaccinated.

Loudon County, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, has done relatively well in terms of keeping COVID-19 cases low compared to other districts in the region.

Still, numbers have increased. “We’re a reflection of the community,” Garren said.

After dropping to low levels in late June and early July, the number of new COVID-19 cases has significantly increased in Tennessee as the delta variant spreads.

In Loudon County Schools, there were 15 active COVID-19 cases in the first full week of school. That increased to 26 active cases in the second week and 44 cases the third week. Fewer than five of the active cases each week were staff members, Garren said.

The number of active cases was still in the low 40s Thursday, Garren said, which is less than 1% of the district’s 5,000 students in nine schools.

Garren told the board that county schools isolate a positive COVID-19 case, traces the person’s contacts and notifies parents by telephone. The Loudon County Health Department determines whether someone has been a close contact of someone who is infected, he said.

The district is struggling to have enough substitute teachers.

However, Garren said he is pleased overall with the current situation in the district, citing a vaccination effort in the spring.