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Commission approves paid leave change

ELKINS — Randolph County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve paid leave for county employees affected by COVID-19 this week during their regular meeting at the James Cain Courthouse Annex.

With the decision, the county will now provide paid sick leave for up to 80 days for any Randolph County employee who is off work because of testing positive for COVID-19, or for any employee who has to be quarantined because of the coronavirus.

Last year, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that mandated that any employee who was off for any circumstances related to COVID-19 be given 80 hours of paid leave. Unfortunately that act expired at the end of 2020 and most employees will have to resort to using their sick leave or vacation time if they are now affected by COVID-19, officials said.

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired, so the commission met and we discussed a proposal that we grant an additional 80 hours leave to our employees for the duration of 2021,” Commission President Mark Scott said during this week’s meeting. “That will go into effect now and anyone that is off, the first 80 hours will not count toward their annual sick leave. Also if the courthouse facilities have to be closed and staff is unable to report to work, that time will also not count against their hours.”

With no clear light shining at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Commissioner David Kesling said it is important that Randolph County’s employees have the same kind of support they had last year under the Families First Act.

“The Families First Act was mandated for last year and there is nothing in place for employees for the year 2021,” Kesling said. “But we chose to do this for our employees.”

Randolph County had 204 active COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon.

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