Coronavirus FAQ’s

Coronavirus F.A.Q.’s

Answers to member questions at our last virtual union meeting on 8/14/20

Mask questions/concerns:

    • How will they address the hot/humid days without fans and mask wearing?
  • A: fans can be used, so long as they’re placed so as to blow out of the room instead of circulating air within the room.
    • How do we ensure a safe standard for masks used?
      • A: District will not regulate the kinds of face coverings used, just that face coverings are used.
    • They told us they were providing us with PPE. So the question is…what kind? And how many? 
  • A: no specific amount was given, but the supt. said that the district will provide face coverings if needed.

Distance learning/ Remote working/ Quarantine concerns:

    • If there are designated DL teachers will the “regular” teacher be responsible for the student originally in their class who opted for remote learning?  
  • A: No, the DL teacher will be responsible.
    • Can DL position include special Educ. teachers?
  • A: it doesn’t seem to at this time. No word if that will change.
    • If teacher is DL teacher, what is their position going to look like the next year, are they ensured a spot?
    • A: unfortunately, no one is ever ensured a specific placement even in non-COVID times. Movement to another position (within the boundaries of your certification) is always a possibility from year-to-year and is the prerogative of administration.
    • When they put kids in DL they may be increasing the size of other classrooms, this is an issue.
    • A: While I can’t guarantee that this won’t be an issue, I can say that balancing class sizes in each school and grade level was a priority for admin whenever I discussed this with them.
    • Are DL positions only available for those who qualify for ADA accommodations?
    • A: According to HR, DL positions are not only for those teachers, but they will try to accommodate those requests when they can. “When they can” is also factor of what  & where you teach, with most of the DL positions being classroom teachers at the elementary level.
    • Just to clarify, we will be expected to be in our buildings 4 days per week, correct?  We can teach remotely on Wed?
  • A: Yes. Dr. Nicol recently emailed a clarification on this to all staff.
    • What happens if a family member is exposed and I must be quarantined by executive order? Sick time, Care’s Act, or some other mechanism. Will I be able to teach remotely?
  • A: According Brian Greenleaf, the district expects that they will have quarantined teachers work remotely for the period in which they’re quarantined, but it’s still a case-by-case decision and subject to change.  For more info about paid leave if you are quarantined, please see the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s “Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights” webpage.
    • If a student of a teacher who travels to two schools tests positive, do that teacher’s students at both schools quarantine? What if the traveling teacher tests positive?
  • A: According to the CDC guidance, you should quarantine if “you were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more,” however the district has said that it will evaluate each situation as it arises.
    • If teachers are in the classrooms teaching their digital classes doesn’t that defeat the point of having open classrooms for spreading kids out if necessary?
  • A: We don’t have an answer for this yet, but it doesn’t seem as if all the moving pieces have been accounted for. Assuming the best intentions here, I think they intend to address these issues if/when they arise on a room-by-room basis. 

Ventilation:

    • How are we ensuring proper classroom ventilation?
  • A: Here are my notes from the 8/26 Board of Ed meeting where this was discussed:
  • Per Liz Nord, Rebecca Rodriguez reported that the company [doing the air quality assessment] would not provide details or numbers with their report; Box fans for classrooms, except at Windermere or for interior classrooms; ventilation will be run at 100%; enhanced filtration systems will not be used (and are “impossible to find,” – Brian Greenleaf); according to Greenleaf, the state’s focus is on increasing air flow and air turn over; children in upper grades required to clean their own desks & shields; Heat issues – “hot weather days” are a possibility; per Greenleaf, classrooms will be monitored (how?); per Greenleaf, the state isn’t in favor of portable A/Cs (Mike Purcaro asked); per Purcaro, there should be more proactive monitoring of classrooms for temperature & air flow; per Miriam Underwood: we wanted a solid report from the HVAC company; reply from Greenleaf: will get more documentation about what’s been done; per Greenleaf: company was hesitant to give a full compliance report because the state guidelines are so broad. 
    • What about bringing in a personal air filtration system?
    • A: Unsure about personal filtration systems. Worth asking about, but would likely fall under the answer to portable A/C units.
    • Can we bring our own air conditioner?
    • A: No. Please see the Board of Ed exchange above.

Equity/ Specials:

    • In regards to elementary specialists/Unified Arts teachers:
    • A: There seem to be a lot of recent changes here and I get the sense that’s likely to change more once we return to school.  There are upcoming meetings with building admin that could shift things again.  I wish I had better answers for you.

Evaluations:

    • Will we have goals?  
    • A: Yes. Per the SDE’s recent guidelines, teachers will “develop a minimum of one student learning goal with a minimum of two indicators or measures of accomplishment focused on:
        • social and emotional learning for students,
        • student engagement, and/or
        • family engagement.
        • An academic goal may be considered, with mutual agreement.”
  •  The final details will be worked out through the district’s PDEC committee. If you have specific concerns, please share them with your building’s PDEC committee member.

Other issues:

    • How is confidentiality for special Ed. rooms going to work with recording the classroom?
    • A: We’ve been told that because this livestreaming system is closed (meaning it’s just a Google Meet session rather than a broadcast stream on YouTube or the like) that confidentiality shouldn’t be at risk. While we don’t agree, this is what the lawyers are saying, so we’re stuck with it.
    • Snack Time and water bottles in the classroom is a concern in elementary classrooms.
    • A: Building admin was made aware of this concern and say they are working on a plan. No details yet.
    • What are the social distancing/safety guidelines that will be followed during our teacher pd week?
    • A: These will vary by building and content area.  Best advice would be to contact your building admin directly.
    • Will families be required to share results of medical tests with the school?
    • A: No. We hope they will, but schools can’t legally require this.
    • How will we keep social distance during lockdown and fire drills?
    • A: No answer yet. Building principals will need to develop a plan. It might take several practice runs to get all the students out of the building safely while ensuring proper distancing.

Other COVID-related Questions:

Q: Does a teacher qualify for unemployment insurance if the teacher resigns because they believe it is not safe to return to school (work) given their personal circumstances?

A: per CEA: “We cannot give guidance on whether or not they “qualify” for UI this is going to be up to the DOL. It is also important to note that you must be ready, willing and able to work while on UL so if there are very limited things that they are willing to do that is a disqualifier. However, they can certainly try and see where it goes.”

Q: Does a teacher qualify for unemployment insurance if the teacher is out on unpaid leave of absence because they believe it is not safe to return to school (work) given their personal circumstances?

A: Same answer as above.

 

Requesting Leave for Childcare

“Relying on information from the Department of Labor it seems to indicate that the first 10 days can be at full pay with sick days used. CEA Legal was also of the opinion per the DOL guidelines that sick time could be used to cover those first 10 days. However late last week, NEA Legal advised CEA Legal that… the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act does NOT compel the employer to allow employees to use their other paid leave for anything they were not entitled to use it for before, e.g. using sick time for child care issues.

The link you can use is here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.

You may use question 10 in this link: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions#10

If I am home with my child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable, do I get paid sick leave, expanded family and medical leave, or both-how do they interact?

You may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of twelve weeks of paid leave. You may take both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This period thus covers

the first ten workdays of expanded family and medical leave, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless you elect to use existing vacation, personal, or medical or sick leave under your employer’s policy. After the first ten workdays have elapsed, you will receive 2/3 of your regular rate of pay for the hours you would have been scheduled to work in the subsequent ten weeks under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.

Please note that you can only receive the additional ten weeks of expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act for leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.”

ADA accommodations and HIPPA:

Under ADA the employer has the right to ask medical information to determine if the employee is disabled. Indeed it is the decision of the employee as to how much they are comfortable disclosing. From an Association’s stand point there is a fine line of disclosing enough information that the employer determines the teacher is “disabled” and therefore need to engage in an interactive process toward a reasonable accommodation and providing too much information so that the employer deems the teacher unfit for duty. This isn’t really a HIPPA issue because the medical provider is likely not submitting a particular diagnosis.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.