Wichita County hopes updated COVID-19 guidelines clear up confusion

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — 2020 is in the rearview mirror, while lessons learned during the pandemic are in the front seat.

Wichita County Commissioners recently adopted new county employee COVID-19 guidelines.

“We had to look at, what could we do and what were the kind of things… We have history now we can look at,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said. “People need to take responsibility and do this.”

County employees now will have 80 hours of paid time off if you’re out for one of three pandemic-related reasons: 1.) You test positive for COVID-19, 2.) You have symptoms of COVID-19, or 3.) You have a close contact or direct exposure to COVID-19.

“We had to do this universal for all employees,” Gossom said. “We thought was a reasonable use of pay and policy.”

The Wichita County District Clerk’s Office has dealt with exposure and short staffing, so for district clerk Patti Flores, this takes away some of the unknown.

“You can’t come in and do six peoples jobs,” Flores said. “So it’s nice to be able to look at something.”

It also clears up confusion, this policy gives you a fixed number of hours for COVID-19, along with criteria that need to be met.

Something Judge Gossom said is something they’ve already dealt with this past year.

“They’re probably staying home 8-5 and then I get reports of people seeing them on Facebook out some place,” Gossom said.

Misuse of time-off, like possibly having multiple COVID-19 scares and missing time but never actually testing positive, or more importantly, not changing your habits outside of work.

“You never got it, you never tested positive, I have to say you should probably adjust you’re work habits, and social habits, if you want to keep your job, cause after you’ve been gone enough time, I might figure out that I don’t need you,” Gossom said.

They hope this policy can keep more people in the building, and ease their minds if they can’t.

“We’re going to have to learn and live and survive with it because we can’t keep shutting everything down,” Flores said.

Adjusting in a new year, during the same pandemic.

In commissioner’s court on Monday, February 1, they hope to clear up some of the wording in the policy, but 80 hours in 2021 will remain.

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