Here is a list of frequently asked questions. Not all answers are final, nor are they all complete. Feel free to check back as we will be updating them as we learn more.
What should school employees do to help prevent the spread of coronavirus?
The CDC has issued guidance regarding prevention of coronavirus, including tips like washing your hands with soap thoroughly and frequently, not touching your mouth, nose or face, and regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. The CDC’s guidance can be found here.
More information from the CDC, including information about how coronavirus spreads and what to do if you are sick, can be found here.
What happens to the district’s funding if a school temporarily closes to contain the spread of the virus?
The district should not lose funding in this situation. Education Code contains a hold harmless provision specifying that in the event a school is closed due to an epidemic or emergency order by a federal, state, city, or county official, the district is credited for the estimated average daily attendance (ADA) funding the school would have received if not for the epidemic or emergency order (Ed. Code Secs. 46390, 46392). The Code further specifies that a district unable to operate a full school year due to an epidemic or an emergency order by a federal, state, city, or county official is to receive “the same apportionment from the State School Fund as it would have received” if it had operated for a full school year (Ed. Code Sec. 41422).
Will schools that are closed have to make up the days at the end of the year?
The Education Code excuses districts from complying with the full school year requirements in the event of an epidemic or order by a federal, state, city, or county official in response to an emergency (Ed. Code Sec. 41422). See also Ed. Code Sec. 37202 (excusing such schools from the “equal time” requirement).
Are districts obligated to pay staff at schools that are closed?
Nothing in Ed. Code excuses districts from their contractual obligations to pay staff in the event a school is closed due to an epidemic or emergency order. The fact that the Education Code protects the district’s funding makes it extremely difficult for districts to argue that they cannot comply with contractual commitments due to the school closure. For these reasons, the past practice in California has been to pay school staff even when schools are shut down due to an emergency.
How does this affect CalSTRS?
The District and Association are working to make sure that CalSTRS and CalPERS benefits are not affected by a potential closing.
“School districts, community college districts, county offices of education or other governing bodies determine school closures based on their own assessments. These decisions could impact members’ service credit depending on how the employer handles the closure. The CalSTRS Member Account Services division will review each closure on a case-by-case basis to determine any impact to service credit. CalSTRS is proactively communicating to employers about the potential impact that school closures could have on service credit for our teacher members and we are providing information for them to consider in making these decisions. We are also encouraging our employers to contact CalSTRS Member Account Services Division if they have questions about the implications of closures.” For more information, click here.
What if I am in an “at-risk” group? Can I stay home without a note?
Part of the CDC’s advice is that those exposed to the virus self-quarantine and not see a doctor unless their condition worsens, requiring medical care.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement says you must have a note from a doctor to return to work if you have been out five days in a row or more. PSTA recommends calling your doctor, instead of going to their office, and having their office fax in a note if your doctor agrees with your diagnosis.
What are my legal rights to take a leave of absence if I contract COVID-19?
The same sick leave provisions apply to illness from the CoronaVirus as apply to other illnesses.
Employees who have exhausted all available and accumulated sick leave and continue to be absent for up to five months due to illness are eligible for differential pay leave (Ed. Code Sec. 44977 for certificated employees and Sec. 45196 for classified employees).
Additional unpaid leave may be available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
The Employment Development Department has additional information at this link regarding leave during this time.
Why can’t I use Clorox wipes?
The District has been telling us for at least six years that it is not a product that is approved for use in our schools. This week, every classroom should have been given a cleaner for daily use to remove dirt and grime. Custodians have been instructed to disinfect all high-touch surfaces daily. If you want to also disinfect your classroom, you must take the Keenan training to train you in the use of pesticides. The EPA classifies anything that kills as a pesticide, therefore disinfectants are pesticides because they kill germs and bacteria.
Are hand sanitizers allowed in schools?
There is nothing in the law that prohibits the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in school settings. The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued guidance for the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers at this link.
How will students receive instruction if schools are closed?
The District is still working on a response to this question.
Why am I not getting the phone calls from the District?