COVID-19 Sick Policy for Staff
The following policy will be submitted for a first reading at the September 8, 2020 School Committee meeting and will be considered for adoption at a future School Committee meeting.
The Smithfield School Committee, Administration, and every staff member of Smithfield Public Schools have a responsibility to follow and implement the guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC to reduce the risk of community spread of the COVID virus. An important recommendation is for individuals experiencing symptoms to stay home. This may be contrary to regular practice, since oftentimes, staff go to work with mild cold symptoms. Employees staying home due to symptoms must use their own sick time for this purpose.
This policy outlines the expectations and professional responsibilities of all staff in the Smithfield School District for the 2020-2021 school year. As any new guidance is developed by the CDC, this policy will be adjusted accordingly.
A. Symptoms Requiring Absence - People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
CDC defines a probable case of COVID as an individual who meets the following criteria:
Those with only one symptom should also remain at home and monitor their symptoms closely.
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list (see this link) as we learn more about COVID-19.
Staff members are to self-report to administrators under the following conditions:
- If they have symptoms of COVID-19
- If they are awaiting test results for COVID-19
- If they have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- If they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks
- If they have been notified by the RIDOH to self-quarantine
C. Returning to Work After Having COVID-19
It is important to remember that any staff member who has close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after exposure based on the time it takes to develop illness.
For any staff member who has traveled internationally or to a US state where > 5% of COVID tests are positive, the preferred method is to quarantine for 14 days after returning to RI. Staff members may face disciplinary action if they willingly undergo travel that will restrict their ability to perform their duties upon return.
COVID-19 can develop any time between 2-14 days after exposure
- A single negative test only indicates that you are negative at that point in time, but you could become infectious any time through day 14
- Quarantining for 14 days before returning to school is the best way to reduce the chance of exposing the school community to COVID-19
Upon returning to school, staff members must submit an after-illness return attestation form.
D. Families First Coronavirus Response Act Provisions
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires our district to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply through December 31, 2020.
Generally, the Act provides that employees are eligible for:
- Two weeks (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 order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
All employees of our district are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
Notice: Where leave is foreseeable, an employee should provide notice of leave to the employer as is practicable. After the first workday of paid sick time, an employer may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave: Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.
Duration of Leave: For reasons (1)-(4) and (6): A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period. For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
Calculation of Pay: For leave reasons (1), (2), or (3): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period). For leave reasons (4) or (6): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period). For leave reason (5): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).
Employees who knowingly travel to a state where return to Rhode Island requires a quarantine may be subject to disciplinary action and will not be eligible for a FFCRA leave. If such travel is unavoidable, the employee should seek written approval by the Superintendent in advance of the travel.
E. Leave Provisions to Support Employees
Employees who wish to take a one year leave from their assignment will be provided with a timeline for notification of the district in accordance with Memoranda of Understanding between the district and its employee associations. For our Local 1217, a retirement incentive was established.
F. Other Funds for COVID-Related Absences
If a staff member contracts the illness and this can be tied directly to the workplace, the person may have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. According to Beacon, Rhode Island’s Workers Compensation insurance provider, “in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, claimants need to prove that the diagnosed illness arose out of and in the course of their employment, and not through other potential sources of exposure. Beacon's team of claim specialists will investigate the facts of each claim and evaluate whether an employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis arose out of and in the course of employment. As with any claimed injury or occupational disease, the medical evidence will be important to the compensability determination.” In order to be considered, the Smithfield School District will report any claim that is suspected to be work related immediately after the employee fills out an accident form.
If you are unable to work due to illness or quarantine and you pay into the state’s TDI program, you may be eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI).
Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) provides benefit payments to insured RI workers for weeks of unemployment caused by a temporary disability or injury. It protects workers against wage loss resulting from a non-work related illness or injury. This fund is only applicable to employees who pay into TDI.
Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) was signed into law on July 11, 2013. TCI provides eligible claimants up to 4 weeks of caregiver benefits to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent, or to bond with a newborn child, new adopted child or new foster-care child. You must apply for TCI benefits during the first 30 days after the first day of leave is taken for reasons of bonding or caregiving.
To apply for TDI, visit https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/ TDIReserve/Home. Be sure to clearly indicate on your application that you have been impacted by COVID-19. The DLT is waiving the usual seven day waiting period for COVID-19 related claims. Benefits may be available for you to care for a family member that has been impacted through Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI). For individuals under quarantine, DLT has waived the required medical certification, and instead will allow them to temporarily qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19.