Arizona Education Association

Spring 2020

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at the capitol SPRING 2020 | ADVOCATE 9 affirmatively state to the district that they will be available to work. Instead, many districts will likely assume employee commitment to being available to work unless employees indicate they will be unavailable or unwilling to work on some occasions. If your district requires you to state your commitment to work availability, then your district should make the process as simple and streamlined as possible. It could be as simple as an email to the district saying "I am hereby committing to be available to work during my normal work hours for the duration of the school closure, except to the extent I indicate in the future that I am unavailable to work on particular dates." Q Is there any limit on how long my school can remain closed? A Schools could potentially remain closed indefinitely. In a state of emergency, state officials, state or county health departments, or public school districts may close schools to protect public health and the safety of staff and students. At present, all schools are closed for four weeks by the order of state officials. There are obviously practical and legal reasons why districts would not want to keep schools closed indefinitely, including state testing and instructional time requirements. However, we may see these requirements waived at the federal and state levels. Q I teach students with disabilities. What do I need to know about providing services to students with disabilities during school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak? A While schools are closed and educational services are not being provided to the general student population, the district is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period. However, if the district continues providing educational opportunities to the general student population during the closure, then the district must ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities. Please refer to the Q&A released by the U.S. Department of Education or ask your district special education director for further information. Q I am concerned about getting the coronavirus when I report to work. What obligation or incentive does my employer have to protect me and other staff from COVID-19? A Your employer has a statutory duty to furnish a workplace "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to . . . employees." In addition, district policies and regulations, such as CCB-R and GBGCB, likewise require the district to safeguard the health of employees and to take reasonable and lawful measures to protect staff members from the transmission of communicable diseases. In addition, employers have financial incentives to avoid work-related injuries, the spread of infectious diseases, or any lost time. It is also the right thing to do. If you are aware of any circumstances that suggest your workplace is not safe, you should report any such concerns to your site administrators or human resources department. For example, if your school has had a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 and your district is not complying with CDC recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection, you should report your concerns immediately. It is advisable to submit the concerns both verbally and in writing. You may ask your local association representative to assist you. If the district does not address any recognized hazards, you may also consider submitting a Notice of Alleged Safety or Health Hazards Form to the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health. Q I have a condition that leaves me especially vulnerable to infection. What, if any, obligation does my employer have to me under these circumstances? A If you are a person with a disability, you may be entitled to receive a reasonable accommodation from your employer if you can still perform the essential functions of the job. Ideally, you should obtain a statement from your healthcare provider that your immune system is compromised (or other justification, as appropriate) and that it is unsafe for you to be in the general public, including in your classroom during a pandemic. You should contact your local association representative to accompany you to human resources to begin the interactive process with your employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Potential accommodations include reassignment to the district office, working remotely/coordinating or providing e-learning, or leave for a period of time. The accommodation ultimately selected must be both reasonable and effective. Also, your district has a duty to inform staff members who are known to have special vulnerability to an infection if an outbreak of a communicable disease occurs at school. Q Can my employer require me to work from home during this pandemic? A Yes, an employer may, but is not required to, assign you to work from home. However, under HB 2910, school employees who are able to perform their work tasks remotely will be required to work remotely beginning on March 30, 2020 through the duration of the statewide FAQ for Employees Once Schools Reopen or When Reporting for Work

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