Information is power. Take a look at this FAQ below published by Granite School District to address employee leave issues with regard to COVID-19. There are some great links if you would like additional information from the state health department.
If you have any questions about these items, send GEA a message in the comment section or email any one of us for a personal reply.
June 29, 2020
COVID-19 EMPLOYEE LEAVE GUIDELINES AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Please click on the link for the latest symptom updates with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19 should NOT be at work and should be tested as soon as possible. COVID-19 testing locations can be found at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/testing-locations/. Employees should notify supervisors as soon as possible.
Who is identified as High-Risk?
Please click on the link for the latest High-Risk updates with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Are High Risk employees required to work on-site?
All employees are required to work on-site, unless directed otherwise by supervisors. However, all employees should adhere to social distancing (ideally 6+ feet), wash hands often, and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). High Risk employees may contact Berkley King, Benefits Manager, for assistance with appropriate personal protective equipment. Berkley King may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What leave could I apply for if I am identified as a High-Risk individual, but I do not qualify for FFCRA Leave?
What leave could I apply for if I am caring for someone identified as a High-Risk individual?
What leave could I apply for if I have been exposed to COVID-19?
What leave could I apply for if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis?
Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should NOT be at work and should be tested as soon as possible.
What leave could I apply for if I test positive for COVID-19?
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 and have been told to self-isolate by the health department or a medical provider, are required to self-isolate for fourteen (14) days or until the employee tests negative for COVID-19.
What leave is available through District policy for contract eligible employees?
District policy provides the following benefits to eligible contract employees:
Granite School District does not extend unauthorized leave. Failure to be on approved leave may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. In addition, each employee is expected to follow the “call-in” procedure when absent from work. If you have any questions regarding the “call-in” procedure, please contact your supervisor or principal.
Employees who make application for leave options, as outlined above, must communicate with immediate supervisors and the Granite School District Benefits Office. Furthermore, employees making a request for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA), or have questions regarding the contents of this letter, should contact Berkley King, ADAAA Coordinator at (385)646-4222 or email@example.com.
Someone told me, “I can’t bear to hear the word “unprecedented” one more time,” so we’re going to work with “unpredictable.” These are indeed unpredictable times. GEA has received many calls and emails of concern from members regarding the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The rush to move to distance learning in March of this year caused anxiety, fear, frustration, and exhaustion. Teachers pulled a hat trick by not only moving from having in-classroom instruction to online, but also creating community, fun, and endless calls and emails to students and parents. Many of you have said that you spent many more hours in distance learning (not just the instruction piece) but the countless calls and questions from students which reached into late in the evening. Now, as the coronavirus hovers over our communities, our thoughts turn to what happens when school starts in August? THAT is the big question.
District administrators have been working very hard to strategize around these unpredictable times. Dr. Bates has announced in both writing and verbally, that the District’s plan of action will be based on the CDC guidelines which go to the state government, and then is shared by Governor Herbert for action. What happens when even the government is confused about what to do about school attendance in the fall? We create an “umbrella of precautions to prevent insecurity”
“The future is only grim because people see it that way. It's unpredictable. Life is a summer storm of insecure thoughts. There's an umbrella of precautions to prevent insecurity, but it doesn't always keep the rain out of your face.”
― Julian Winters, Running With Lions
Your AdvoCats have been at the table during all District planning; continuing to ensure your voice is in the room and your rights are protected. This planning is a moving target and may change as quickly as the number of positive COVID-19 cases do each day. Following are some of the most common questions we have received from GEA members:
Will teachers be expected to teach both online and in the classroom?
The short answer is “yes.” The District has announced that it will take cues from the state health department on what is appropriate for school re-opening and there will be a balance of both distance and in-person instruction. In order to maintain physical distancing, the District is suggesting a hybrid schedule of student in-classroom attendance. Students with last names starting with A-L will attend in classroom on Monday and Wednesday. Students with last names starting with M-Z will attend in classroom on Tuesday and Thursday. Teachers will record their classroom instruction on these days and broadcast to the students, via Google Meet or Canvas, who will be “attending” from home online. Details for this plan were rolled out at the School Board meeting last week. For further details you can access the following links: Administrative presentation to the Granite school board, and the YouTube video of the meeting (note that this discussion begins at the 1:02 timeline).
In order to balance out the time it will take to create online instructional materials and prepare for each week, Friday’s will be days when teachers have time to plan, coordinate, and create what is necessary for the upcoming week. GEA continues to argue for increased planning time so as to accommodate all that they are being asked to do this year.
Will teachers receive training and/or instruction for online instruction?
In May the District sent a survey to all teachers regarding their top needs for planning for the 2020-21 school year. The results show that the top three needs are:
These needs have been the action the District has taken this summer to provide these and other resources for teachers. Beginning on August 13 – August 21 teachers are expected to return to work and, as negotiated, these days will be divided between 2.5 days for time in the classroom to prepare for the new year, and the other days will be shared with faculty professional development and online instruction, etc. The presentation link above will show the format outlined in detail. GEA closely followed the planning and preparation of these days and the District collaborated with GEA to ensure the contractual language was followed.
A survey was sent to parents regarding their preferences for returning to school, why didn’t we (teachers) have the option to submit our preferences?
The District, as the employer, will determine the working guidelines based on scientific evidence, Utah State Board of Education guidelines, state risk management, and governmental mandates and suggestions. The survey in May was a way for the District to hear what teachers need to be successful in their work. The safety, health, and wellbeing of teachers has been strongly advocated by GEA in collaboration with legal counsel. We will protect teacher rights and working conditions and heavily rely on the collaborative and respectful working relationship we have with the District.
What happens if we come back to school, and there is a positive case (of COVID-19) in my classroom or in the school?
If we are to return in August full-time or in some hybrid manner, all precautions will be in place to maintain a safe and sanitized learning environment. Temperatures of students and staff will be taken prior to entering the building, custodians will daily deeply sanitize the entire building each day, air ventilation will be available where necessary, etc. Precautions will be in place for six feet of physical distancing, and the District will have masks available for every employee and student. However, infection will likely happen, and when this does, the school (like what occurred with Hunter High last spring), or the classroom(s) involved will close and students and teachers will isolate at home for the necessary 14+ days. The District will be nimble in making decisions to avoid the spread of infection.
If I am quarantined, will this affect my accumulated sick leave?
Should there be a mandatory school or classroom dismissal, or closure, employees will be placed on paid administrative leave. If the school is not mandatorily closed, your sick days may be used if you personally or a family member are ill, as per the contract. There are leave days available through the federal CARE Act, which allows up to ten days of paid leave for reasons of COVID-19 infection. This leave will supplement the leave provided by our contract. You also have unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act that is available. Any concerns or questions about leave, GEA will handle on a case-by-case basis, so keep us close.
I am worried about the lack of substitutes if I need to be home or become ill.
Without a doubt, substitutes will be scarce this year. Each school building will navigate the best way to handle these situations. This issue is still being discussed and worked through. GEA leadership is in discussions with the District to resolve this pending issue.
Can we make wearing face masks mandatory?
This question is before the Utah State Risk Management team of attorneys. Dr. Bates suggests that likely, the District will be given the option to mandate masks, but how this would be monitored and the remedy if employees and students refuse to comply is a bigger question. We will need to count on the good sense and responsibility of the student and staff body.
In closing, let us reiterate; the best laid plans may change in a moment depending on the viral nature of COVID-19 and mandates from the government for state or counties. Everything is in flux and planning for each eventual possibility is near impossible. Please continue to share your questions and concerns, and GEA will be diligent in passing these on to the District. Our main concerns are your health and the health and well-being of students. GEA is navigating the rough waters with you and we’re all keeping our heads above the water…barely!
An Educator’s Right to Speech
The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minnesota ignited a powder-keg of protests around the world. The arrogance of the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, in broad daylight, while people filmed, and Floyd cried out for his mother has exposed this nation’s history of racism. Many of us in Utah have been actively involved in peaceful protests. Current events bring home the much needed work around racial justice in our communities and schools.
GEA has been at the forefront of human and civil rights issues in our District. GEA members have been meeting over the years to learn about the concerns teachers and students of color have in our schools and stand together to speak out for change. These active members have created training around trauma-informed schools, racial justice, and support for our LBGTQ community members. If you are interested in finding resources on Human and Civil Rights, click this link to GEA’s website:
The role of your AdvoCats through this is to offer the best advice for teachers who choose to be on the front lines of protesting. Following are some guidelines we would like to share as you make the decision to join a protest.
GEA supports the right of everyone to protest lawfully and respectfully and will simultaneously protect your employment as a GEA member and employee with Granite District.
Don’t forget to wear a mask, remain 6 feet from the nearest protester, don’t touch your face, and carry sanitizer!
The GEA Political Action Committee makes recommendations in Granite-area races based solely on educational issues. No member’s dues dollars are ever spent on political campaigns; instead we rely on voluntary contributions to the PAC to help elect education-friendly candidates.
Please make sure that your voice is heard – please vote.
Recommendations of the UEA PAC can be found here:
The GEA Political Action Committee recommends the following candidates:
Granite District School Board Recommendations
House District Recommendations
School Board District 2
School Board District 1
Julie Jackson: https://votejuliejackson.com/
Max Chang: www.maxputskidsfirst.com
Would you like to contribute?
You can send a check along with the GEA PAC contribution form below.
Please mail to GEA Political Action Committee, 875 E. 5180 S. Ste #1, Murray, Utah 84107.
PAC Contribution Form
of a Life so beautifully lived...
a Heart so deeply loved" - Author Unknown
We share in this time of grief, but also share in the love and memories of Norma Jean Dye Phipps, Former GEA President.
"Norma was a teacher beginning her career in 1952 in eastern Kentucky. She was the first female school bus driver in the area. She taught summers at Indian Community Schools. She taught 5th grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary and Twin Peaks Elementary. She served as president of Granite School District Teachers Association, and was the chief contract negotiator for the teachers for several years."
Read the full obituary here >>
The Memorial Service will be held on Friday, June 12 and will be available to watch online by going to Norma's obituary page at HolbrookMortuary.com
“Ugh! My recent COVID-19 test came out positive; what is my responsibility to my employer?” Some of us may be experiencing this terror, and many of us are assured to experience it in the near future.
What is a teacher’s responsibility when receiving positive results from a COVID-19 test?
According to the Utah State Health Department, whether you go to your primary care doctor, a health facility, or testing site, if you test positive you will be contacted by your health provider and asked questions about where you have been in the past few weeks, so that contact tracing may be done efficiently. Now this is important, you don’t have to contact your principal and report your positive test results. The Granite School District is in contact with the State Health Department on an almost daily basis. If anyone tests positive and reports that they were at a Granite school event or in a building during an infection period, the contact tracing personnel will report that immediately to the District and give them specifics as to what building or in what capacity you (as an employee, not individual) were with other people. The name of the person who has been tested positive is NOT given and is kept confidential.
You may feel responsible for your colleagues and/or students whom you have been in contact with, and if you wish to report to the District your positive results, do so by calling the HR Benefits Department only. (Contact numbers below.) The staff and administrators in the Granite Benefits Department will ensure your confidentiality. They will contact the administrators assigned to your school to give them an update regarding a positive test, the dates and timelines, but will also keep your name confidential.
In order to educate administrators and supervisors of how to manage the pandemic, the District distributed a document which states specifically the protocols for positive or potential infection. Following is an excerpt from the administrative memorandum:
If an employee is at work and reports that they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, supervisors shall send the employee home. COVID-19 symptoms include; coughing, fever, shortness of breath, muscle soreness, loss of taste or smell, and sore throat. Supervisors should immediately contact their direct supervisor, Cescilee Rall, RN, NCSN, and Benefits/HR. The employee should be directed to contact their personal doctor and the SLCHD.
If an employee calls in and reports they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, supervisors should permit the employee to stay home. COVID-19 symptoms include; coughing, fever, shortness of breath, muscle soreness, loss of taste or smell, and sore throat. Supervisors should immediately contact their direct supervisor, Cescilee Rall, RN, NCSN, and Benefits/HR. The employee should be directed to contact their personal doctor and the SLCHD.
If an employee reports a positive COVID-19 test result, supervisors will direct the employee to call Benefits/HR as soon as possible. Supervisors should immediately contact their direct supervisor, Cescilee Rall, RN, NCSN, and Benefits/HR.
Further in the memorandum it states:
Communication with Employees (including those protected by the ADA) during COVID-19
Communicating with employees during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful and challenging. This document is intended to provide guidance regarding communications with employees, including those who may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. Personal identities shall be kept confidential, with the exception of reporting requirements. Employees may apply for ADA accommodations at any time by contacting Berkley King, Benefits Manager. If ADA accommodations are granted to an employee, supervisors are notified of those accommodations via a letter from Benefits.
It's important that YOUR personal information remains confidential. The expectation of the District and state health department is strict confidentiality in accordance with HIPPA privacy law.
Let’s be realistic, principals are human and may react unprofessionally by sharing a person’s name to other staff or teachers in the school building. However, their role as an administrator should be to protect your privacy. If this should happen, please contact GEA and we will educate the principal and ask the District to re-enforce its protocols.
Bottom-line, you can do yourself a favor by also following safety protocols that protect you from human error and embarrassment if your confidentiality is breached. Follow the protocols for reporting as stated above. Here are some contact numbers for your information:
Salt Lake County Health Department – COVID-19 Info Line - 1-800-456-7707
Cescilee Rall, RN, NCSN, Granite School District– 385-646-2139
Granite School District Benefits – 385-646-4222 or 385-646-4528
Granite School District Human Resources- 385-646-4517 or 385-646-4511