The information below is intended to answer general questions and may not apply to every specific situation.  If you have specific questions about your employment situation, please contact Dr. Dare directly. 

*The following information is compiled from a variety of sources including MSTA, MNEA, the Missouri Department of Labor, and the Missouri United School Insurance Council.  All of this information is subject to change.

1. If I get COVID while at school will I be able to use paid time off? Will I be forced to use my paid time off?

Yes, you may have to use your accrued paid time off if you’re out because you have COVID-19 or are quarantined. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired and is no longer in effect. If you are quarantined, the district will make every effort to work with you to allow you to continue to work from home if you are able to do so. 

2. If I get COVID while working at the school, will I qualify for FMLA?

Possibly, depending on the severity of the symptoms you have. As always, an employee qualifies for FMLA if they have a serious health condition as defined in the Act. Unless you have complications from having COVID-19 that require continuing medical treatment and/or in-patient care, you will likely not qualify for FMLA. An employee is only eligible for a total of 12 weeks of leave, under any FMLA process,during a reporting year. Our district reporting year is defined as July 1 through the following June 30. As a reminder, there is no paid time off associated with FMLA.

3. If I have a pre-existing condition or am otherwise in a “high risk” category, and am not comfortable going back to school, what should I do?

The first step is to contact your healthcare provider and discuss these concerns with them. Your medical provider will determine whether or not your condition requires quarantine, or if it’s safe for you to return to the workplace. It is possible you might qualify for leave under the traditional Family and Medical Leave Act or for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you would like to discuss accommodation, please contact your supervisor and Dr. Dare. 

4. If I’m pregnant, do I have any additional rights that would allow me to stay home?

No, unfortunately you do not. Pregnancy alone does not put you in a high-risk category. If you have complications from your pregnancy, resulting in a doctor-recommended quarantine, you may be eligible for leave rights mentioned above.

5. Can I force the students in my classroom to wear a face mask?

Employees are expected to follow district guidelines regarding masks and their usage throughout the school day.  This applies to employees and students. 
Absent a mandate from federal, state or local government or the school district, an individual district employee is not able to unilaterally require masks be worn in his/her classroom.

6. Can the district take my temperature and ask medical questions when I report to work?

Yes, schools are allowed to conduct basic screenings of their employees. Pursuant to the EEOC’s guidance, employers may screen their employees regarding COVID-19, so long as employers treat all employees uniformly and protect the confidentiality of the screening results. Questions must be related to COVID-19. Screening can include asking employees if they are experiencing symptoms, taking their temperatures, and even requiring they be tested.

7. Is the district required to accommodate me if I live with a high-risk individual?

No, while employers are usually required to accommodate employees on a variety of levels, this does not extend to other individuals the employee knows or lives with. People who live with high-risk individuals should take extra precautions and consider staying at home altogether if they don’t feel the work environment is safe. Reasonable accommodations may be possible and should be discussed with your supervisor and Dr. Dare. 

8. If a COVID-19 outbreak forces my school to close, can the district force me to use my sick leave during the closure?

It depends. In the event of a full school closure, some employees will be required to report to work, either onsite or remote from home.  If those employees or an immediate family member becomes ill, the regular sick leave policy will be applied.

Employees not required to report to work during a school closure, will continue to be paid their regular rate of pay for their primary job assignments and will not be forced to use sick leave. This is assuming the employee is ready and willing to work, but for the closure.

9. What is my liability if a student in my classroom gets COVID because the students are either not social distancing, or unable to social distance via the type of lesson or instruction they’re receiving?

Analyzing a teacher’s liability for a COVID spread in their classroom is similar to any other event taking place in the classroom. As the teacher and adult in the room, it is important you are monitoring the students at all times and enforcing school rules and codes of conduct. Teachers will be responsible for enforcing all COVID guidelines approved for this upcoming school year.

That being said, kids will be kids and unexpected events will occur in the classroom that we are unable to stop. While we cannot reduce a teacher’s liability to zero, actively monitoring the students and enforcing the rules given to you by the school are good ways to keep your liability to a minimum.

10. If I contract COVID at school and miss time from work, will I qualify for workers’ compensation?

Most likely, no.

Generally, a regular disease that the general public is exposed to is not covered under the occupational disease category. So while occupational diseases are typically covered by workers’ compensation, diseases such as influenza, common colds, and MRSA are not covered. This holds true even if the worker is a healthcare worker. These diseases can be contracted in infinite places, not necessarily at the worker’s place of employment. Workers’ compensation cases involving COVID-19 will likely only be compensable if the worker is in the healthcare field and has been specifically exposed to the virus.

11. If I’m off work for COVID-related reasons how will that impact my retirement?

If you are getting paid while on leave, there will be no impact on your retirement benefits. However, if your leave is only partially paid under FMLA rules, it will likely impact your retirement credits. If you are not being paid and are not working, you will not receive service hours toward retirement.

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