Staff COVID FAQ

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 my sick days? Will I be forced to use my sick days?

It’s possible you might have to use your sick days if you’re out because you have COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined pursuant to federal, state, or local government ordinance or advice of a health care provider, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. The 80 hours provided by federal law is in addition to your accumulated leave with the district and must be exhausted before turning to your accrued leave. Therefore, your district leave will not begin until you have exhausted this federal benefit. At that point, district sick leave policy will control when and how your days will be used. 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.

3. How does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act change my rights under FMLA?

Traditional FMLA as you know it, is still in existence. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act simply adds a qualifying reason for leave. If you are unable to work because you must care for a son or daughter due to the closure of their school or daycare, you qualify for  up to 12 weeks of FMLA coverage. The first 2 weeks are unpaid, but you would be allowed to use vacation, personal time, and/or compensatory time if you have any available. The remaining 10 weeks is paid at two-thirds your regular rate of pay.  However, an employee is still 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.

4. 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. With a written recommendation from your healthcare provider, you may qualify for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The quarantine recommendation may qualify you for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.  Again, FMLA leave allows for a total of 12 weeks during the reporting year. 

Once you have used your eligible hours, the new law does not provide protection. 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. 

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Am I required to report when and where I travel?

We are asking all employees to be responsible in their travel planning and to take appropriate safeguards. The district is not currently restricting travel for employees or students.  However, district employees traveling outside the State of Missouri are expected to notify the district. Please use this LINK for more information and to report out of state travel plans. 

9. 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. 

10. Can I take off work to watch my own children if I don’t feel comfortable sending them back to school?

No, assuming your child’s school or daycare is open, you cannot take off work to watch them because you are not comfortable sending them to school/daycare. Each parent (including teachers and other school employees with children) will need to assess how they feel about sending their own children back.

11. 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.

 

12. 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.

13. 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.

 

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

If you are getting paid while out on leave, there will be no impact on your retirement benefits. However, if your leave is only partially paid under the expanded 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.