Good afternoon. We have received multiple phone calls from our members with questions and concerns related to the 2021-2022 Health and Safety Guidelines Memorandum of Understanding. Many of these questions and concerns are regarding an email sent from the district to all employees yesterday afternoon. The purpose of this email is to provide clarity on some of these issues.
Exposed Staff Members
The district email states:
“As essential employees, staff quarantine protocols for District employees have changed for the 2021-2022 school year. The primary change being that employees who are exposed to a COVID positive individual, whether vaccinated or not, are no longer required to quarantine unless they themselves become symptomatic and are unable to pass the self-screener.”
Keep in mind, the decision to quarantine an employee is made by the Pasco County Department of Health. The basis for their decisions will continue to change and evolve as they continue to get guidance from the CDC and other agencies. Also, please note that employees experiencing any of the symptoms described on the self-screener should not go to his or her worksite. Instead, these employees should fill out the MACH FORM to apply for administrative leave.
We have received some questions regarding mask policies. Here is the actual language from the signed MOU regarding Masks:
“Rules and guidance concerning the wearing of protective masks will be governed by the CDC, and state, and local health departments and applicable laws and regulations. Masks and other personal protective equipment shall be provided upon request when available. The District will not take any adverse action against any employee utilizing reasonable personal protective equipment. Where conflict exists between these agencies, the District will make the determination until such time as a binding legal decision is in place.”
Teaching Quarantined Students
The district email states:
“...all employees with student instructional or instructional support responsibilities are required to fully-support students who need to participate in daily instruction virtually during COVID-19 related quarantine/isolation.”
Please know that this does NOT mean that teachers are required to engage in simultaneous instruction every time a student is quarantined. Instead, teachers should decide the best way to continue the education of quarantined students. Below is the exact language from the MOU that was signed by district and USEP regarding this issue. Please notice that this language includes some but not all the techniques that a teacher may utilize.
“All employees with instructional and/or instructional support responsibilities shall be expected to fully support students needing to participate remotely due to COVID-related isolation/quarantine through the use of a variety of techniques and technologies including live streaming whole group instruction, posting relevant materials on Canvas, interacting through emails and phone calls, interaction with Academic Tutors, providing recorded lessons, and other techniques.”
Administrative Leave Days
USEP and the District also agreed to some additional Leave options. It is important to note that these options are in addition to any Leave provisions already provided for in the contract including FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), ILD (Injury/Illness-in-Line-of-Duty Leave), Sick Leave, Personal Leave, etc. Here is the actual language of the agreement.
- Effective August 2, 2021, the District intends to provide administrative leave, up to twenty (20) days for the 2021-2022 school year when an employee (1) is subject to quarantine/isolation as directed by the District’s COVID Response Team and/or the Pasco County Department of Health; or (2) requires isolation, as documented by a licensed healthcare professional, due to the employee testing positive for COVID through exposure at work. To be eligible for these additional days of administrative leave, the following criteria must be met:
- The employee has abided by specified health and safety protocols.
- The employee provides evidence of being fully vaccinated and/or receives from the District a reasonable accommodation under applicable employment law.
- The employee is available to work, but due to the nature of his/her position, as determined by the employee’s worksite supervisor, cannot work remotely.
- The quarantine/isolation is a result of being traced to COVID exposure while working for the District or is due to the onset on COVID symptoms without known exposure.
- The employee agrees to any offered COVID testing through the District’s COVID testing centers and tests with all reasonable haste.
- The employee provides all reasonable requested documentation within eight (8) five working days. This is including, but not limited to, request for COVID Administrative Leave, documentation supporting the need to be absent from work for quarantine/isolation, and/or testing positive for COVID through exposure at work, evidence of vaccination, and/or documentation supporting a request for the need for a reasonable accommodation.
- The extent of an individual instance of administrative leave shall not exceed the period of quarantine/isolation or 8 working days, whichever is less.
- Nothing herein prevents the District from investigating potential fraud and/or abuse of the above provisions.