The Marion School District will be joining numerous other districts across the state for the 2021-22 school year in returning to traditional paid leave policies, eliminating extra paid leave related to Covid-19. The move is based on the widespread availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, which allows staff to protect themselves and others from the virus.

Additionally, staff members who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to quarantine, should they be exposed to the Covid-19 virus.

Previously, the district used a combination of state and federal Covid funding, as well as operational funding to pay for the leave. The leave was required for any staff member who tested positive for Covid-19, was forced to quarantine because of close contact with someone with Covid-19, or needed to care for a dependent in quarantine because of Covid-19.

Moving forward, employees who have not been vaccinated will be required to use their own leave time (sick, personal, free, or vacation days) if they are ordered to quarantine or isolate because of testing positive for Covid-19 or being a close contact with someone who tests positive. Any employee who has exhausted all of their leave time will be required to take leave without pay.

To help boost the local vaccination rate, the Marion School District is hosting two Community Vaccination Clinics this summer. These clinics are open to anyone in the community age 12 and up. The first event will be Wednesday, June 30, with the second on Wednesday, July 14. Both events will be held from 1-6 p.m. at the Patriot Arena. These will be first-shot clinics, with the second doses set for July 21 and August 4, respectively.

Previously, more than 250 staff members received Covid-19 vaccinations during a pair of staff vaccination clinics in February.

"Our goal is to enjoy a traditional school year, characterized by face-to-face teaching, music concerts, athletic events, and more," said Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent. "To do this, we need for our students and staff, who are able, to get vaccinated against Covid-19."

Fenter said it is difficult to calculate the total financial impact of Covid-19 illnesses and quarantines over the past school year, but he said he is hopeful that with proper precautions taken, the impact will be much smaller in the year ahead. 

“Given the wide availability of the vaccine, we hope the need for staff quarantines will be much more minimal moving forward,” he said. "Last year, we faced so much uncertainty as Covid-19 spread across our country and schools. This year, with the vaccine, we have a way to control it. We have a way to protect ourselves.”