Just days before classes resume Monday for approximately 18,000 Columbus City Schools students, the district has agreed that more than 200 at-risk educators who have been denied paid vacation can stay home.
The permit is temporary for now as their requests are being re-evaluated, spokeswoman Jacqueline Bryant said.
The decision, taken Thursday, followed pressure from the district’s teachers’ union, the Columbus Education Association, to announce a “great victory” that evening.
John Coneglio, its president, said in a statement that he was pleased that union members did not “have to choose between their health and their careers”.
About 200 union members asked the district to take paid leave, guaranteed by the federal law on responding to families with the first coronavirus, after a doctor advised them to quarantine because “a high rate, according to a press release Risk of getting COVID-19 “from the union.
The district needs to determine if such advice applies to the law, Bryant said.
Although federal law requiring employers to provide paid vacation expired on December 31, 2020, the district and its union agreed to extend its benefits until March 23, 2021. Anyone advised to quarantine due to COVID-19 disease or possible exposure will be granted quarantine for 80 hours or two weeks.
A coronavirus alleviation bill signed on December 27, 2020 and signed by former President Donald Trump allows employers who voluntarily pay for that vacation until March 31, 2021, to receive tax credits.
A second, smaller group of teachers asked to continue working from home as shelter under the federal law on Americans with Disabilities.
Under Thursday’s agreement, the district will now review each case in both groups to determine if an educator is eligible for paid vacation.
The affected educators can use their accrued free time to stay at home. If they are deemed eligible, that time will be refunded.
“We have said time and time again that our priority during this pandemic was the health and safety of our entire school community,” Coneglio said in the press release. “There is no clearer example of this than our struggle to protect the nationwide guaranteed rights of our most vulnerable members.”
The union represents approximately 4,000 teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, psychologists and other employees.
The district doesn’t think the situation should affect its workforce on Monday.
“The district expects employees who are supposed to be in person in an assigned school building to show up for work unless they have approved vacation,” said Bryant in an email on Friday. “Any time a teacher fails to show up for face-to-face lessons, it has a detrimental effect on the staffing of our personal students. In the worst case, we may have to combine classes or even close a building.”
Columbus City Schools – Ohio’s largest school district with nearly 50,000 students enrolled – will resume face-to-face tuition Monday morning for three groups of students: all preschool and grade K-3 students; Select students of all grades with “complex needs” such as: B. Disabilities. and students in career engineering education programs at Columbus Downtown High School and the Fort Hayes Career Center.
Students attend classes twice a week and study from home the other three days.
All Columbus students have been studying online from home since March 9, 2020, when Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio over the coronavirus pandemic.
However, in many Ohio school districts, students have been studying in person for some time.
Katie Olmsted, spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union that represents the Columbus union, said confusion over the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is widespread, which is why districts often deny paid leave to educators.
“Our advocacy has helped protect the rights and safety of many members in these cases,” Olmsted said in an email on Friday.
Starting Monday, the state will roll out COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 educators across Ohio. Columbus City Schools teachers began enrolling for vaccinations through Columbus Public Health Friday, Coneglio said. You will receive recordings in the transit clinic from Wednesday.
On Tuesday, educators from other districts in Franklin County will receive vaccinations given by Kroger Health at school clinics in Hilliard and Reynoldsburg.