School employees who did not use extra leave for COVID quarantine and recovery can still use that leave if the need arises.

The extra leave, approved by the state last year, allows school staff who contracted or may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home without using their own accrued sick days.

The allowance for those extra days was to expire on Dec. 31, but state officials approved an extension until March 31.

South Pike School District officials worried about the loss of those days on Thursday, with Superintendent Donna Scott saying the district might be able to change the designation of leave or reimburse employees for personal leave days if the COVID leave was reinstated.

Word of the COVID leave extension came shortly after, with Walthall County’s school board calling a special meeting Friday morning to accept the extension.

“This will be available for teachers who haven’t already exhausted this leave,” Walthall school board president Bobbie Lewis said.

The state also handed down a change to mileage reimbursement.

With gas prices below $2 for most of the past year, the state lowered its mileage reimbursement allowance from 57.5 cents per mile to 56 cents.

Walthall school board members amended their mileage reimbursement policy to remove reference to the actual amount of reimbursement allowed and say that the district will match the state-allowed rate.

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