Governor Proposes $20M in Paid COVID-19 Leave for Teachers

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LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday proposed setting aside $20 million for teachers who have to miss work because of the coronavirus as the state reported one of its biggest increases in virus cases since the pandemic began.

Hutchinson proposed using federal coronavirus relief funds to provide up to two weeks of paid leave for teachers and staff who have to quarantine because of the virus. The proposal goes before a state panel next week.

Arkansas public schools reopen later this month, despite objections from teachers and pediatricians about resuming onsite instruction during the pandemic.

The Department of Health said at least 48,039 people have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 1,011 confirmed cases since Thursday. Friday marked the state’s third-highest single-day increase in cases.

The department said 7,158 of the state’s cases are active, meaning they don’t include people who have died or recovered. 

The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. 

The number of people who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, increased by six to 521. The number of people hospitalized increased by nine to 523.

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