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COVID 19 Employee Resources

BCBS Benefits

 

This link will provide information on BCBS enhanced benefits to assist in prevention and detection of COVID-19.

 

https://www.bcbs.com/coronavirus-updates

 

Blue 365

Employees who participate in the districts health insurance also have access to Blue 365, a full service site dedicated to the health and well-being of its members.

 

https://www.bcbsks.com/blueaccess/

 

CDC Website

 

The CDC website contains information related to COVID-19 and as well as resources to assist in the prevention of the virus.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/

 

US Department of Labor

 

The DOL administers and enforces wages and hour laws as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act, including the newly created Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The DOL site has added a page dedicated to resources related to COVID-19.

 

https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus

 

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)


If you or a family member have been affected by the COVID-19 virus, you may be eligible for benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  Please contact Marty Blosser for more details.

 

  Click on the following links to learn more about Employee Paid Leave Rights.

 

FFCRA-Employee Paid Leave Rights

 

Employer Paid Requirements

 

Request for Emergency Paid Sick Leave


COVID-19 Considerations

 

Protection for the Workplace and our Families
 

This section contains resources and information regarding how we can all protect our workplace and our families against the COVID-19 virus

 

What you need to know about COVID-19

 

Symptoms of COVID-19

 

What to do if you are Sick with COVID-19

 

Frequently Asked Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

  1. If a board of education determines that on-site educational activities will resume, can employees be required to report to district facilities to perform their duties?

A:         Likely yes, but with limitations.

  • Though employers should respect employees’ valid concerns about the risks of exposure associated with returning to an in-person work environment, as long as the district complies with local and county health guidelines, employees who are not in a high-risk category may be required to report to work onsite. Being afraid of the virus, alone, does not entitle an employee to special accommodations.
  • Any employee who qualifies as “disabled” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is entitled to reasonable accommodations if such accommodations are necessary to enable the employee to perform essential job functions.
  • Employees with elevated risk factors, though not otherwise “disabled” under the ADA, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations, as well. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has not directly stated that these accommodations are required, but it appears likely that the ADA or a similar standard will apply. Employers must engage individual employees in an interactive discussion concerning the accommodations needed to enable the employee to complete assigned employment duties.
  • Employees who are reluctant to return to work because a family member has elevated risk factors are not legally entitled to special treatment, but districts should consider accommodations where possible to address their concerns, as well. Employees should not be expected to put frail members of their immediate household at grave risk if employment accommodations could be made to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.
     
  1. Can an employee be disciplined or terminated for refusing to report to work onsite?

A:         The district may require all employees to perform their essential job functions and may discipline or terminate employees who do not perform them. However, some employees may be entitled to accommodations based on medical and other factors that place them at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If an employee who is considered to be at high risk requests reasonable accommodations to be able to perform essential job functions, FMLA leave and any reasonable accommodations should be considered, and no adverse employment consequences may be imposed.

Before a public school imposes monetary sanctions or terminates the contract a professional employee, such as a teacher or an administrator, the employee is entitled to due process.                      

  1. What employees are considered to be at “high risk” of severe illness from COVID-19?

A:         There is no exhaustive list of conditions that may lead a person to be at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19, though CDC guidance has singled out the following categories as “vulnerable individuals” who are at high risk for severe illness if they become infected:

  • People who are immunocompromised
  • Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes
  • People with asthma
  • People with HIV
  • People with liver disease.

People in the risk categories above may be entitled to leave under FMLA and to reasonable accommodations under the ADA to allow them to perform essential job functions with reduced risk of exposure. Other categories for possible concern that may require accommodation include:

  • People with dementia
  • People with disabilities
  • Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Racial and ethnic minority groups
  • Newly resettled refugee populations.

Employees in this second group of categories may be entitled to leave under FMLA and reasonable accommodations if they believe their status exacerbates risks associated with exposure to COVID-19. For example, a homeless individual may have difficulty isolating or quarantining, and could require added protections to avoid exposure to the virus. People with certain disabilities may need assistance with protective equipment. Employers should provide reasonable accommodations.

  1. What accommodations could school districts be required to provide?

A:         Though no exhaustive list exists, and any accommodation that does not cause undue hardship must be provided for individuals who are considered to be at “high risk,” EEOC pandemic guidance lists the following accommodations that may reduce the risk of virus exposure:  

  • Use of facemasks or other personal protective equipment
  • One-way aisles
  • A barrier that provides separation, such as plexiglass, tables or other means to ensure adequate social distancing
  • Temporary job restructuring of marginal job duties
  • Temporary transfers to a different position
  • A modified work schedule or shift assignment to allow an employee to commute during less busy times
  • Moving the location of where an employee performs work.

EEOC stresses the importance of both employers and employees being flexible in determining what accommodation is possible under the circumstances.

  1. If the school requires use of Personal Protective Equipment as a reasonable accommodation, must it provide equipment to employees?

A:         Though general equipment, such as cloth masks, do not need to be provided, under Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act, the employer must provide any specialized equipment needed for employees with disabilities. For example, non-latex gloves must be provided to employees who have a latex allergy; specialized face masks must be provided to interpreters or others who communicate with employees or students who read lips; etc. This requirement includes providing specialized equipment to employees if it is required as an accommodation to protect others who are at high risk for serious illness. The decision is to be made on a case-by-case basis.

  1. When should schools begin conversations about requested work accommodations?

A:         Conversations should begin as soon as possible, since putting requested accommodations in place may take time. As soon as a school district or college decides what method will be employed to start the 2020-2021 school year, it should communicate the plan to staff and invite them to contact Human Resources personnel if they believe any accommodations will be necessary to enable them to perform their duties. The district should develop advance planning measures for discussing and implementing reasonable accommodations.

  1. What baseline concerns should be addressed as part of advance planning?

 A:        Employers should conduct a risk assessment of their worksites. As part of this risk assessment, employers should categorize the COVID-19 exposure risk level of the various employee roles at each worksite and take appropriate steps to protect employees based on their exposure risk level. Considerations should include:

  • Hygiene and hand sanitation products at multiple locations
  • Signs and notices encouraging frequent handwashing and discouraging handshaking and other unnecessary contact
  • More frequent and thorough cleaning of restrooms and common spaces
  • Whether face coverings or face shields should be required where social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Increased environmental cleaning
  • Discouraging shared workstations
  • Plans to maintain social distancing, including limiting the number of students and employees in a given space, implementing “one way” hallways or paths, assigning revolving schedules for the use of lunchrooms and common areas.

Employers should conduct staff in-service at the district and building level to advise all employees of the latest health risks, the steps being taken to reduce risk of exposure in the workplace, and the employer’s expectations concerning procedures adopted in response to the pandemic.

  1. Can a public employer require COVID-19 testing or temperature screening before permitting entry into the workplace?

A:         Yes. The EEOC has advised that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may administer COVID-19 testing or temperature screening to employees before they are permitted to enter the workplace. Employers can require employees to stay home if their temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Test results must be kept confidential.

  1. Can employers solicit health information from employees who are physically entering the workplace?

A:         Employers may ask employees whether they have COVID-19 or symptoms of the disease. The EEOC has advised that employers should NOT ask whether an employees’ family members have or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Instead, EEOC recommends asking whether the employee has had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or shows symptoms of the virus.

  1. Can employers store medical files or information related to COVID-19 tests in existing medical information files, or must the employer create a new file solely for this information?

A:         Under the ADA, all medical information about an employee must be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file in order to protect confidentiality. COVID-19 information, including records of temperatures, statements from the employee concerning the disease and other documentation about symptoms or diagnoses may be stored in existing confidential medical files.

  1. May an employer who learns an employee has COVID-19 disclose the name of the employee to a public health agency?

A:         Yes.

  1. Are employers permitted to disclose the identity of an infected employee to other co-workers or to other third parties?

A:         No. Employers may advise that “an employee has tested positive for COVID-19” and should advise co-workers and others that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, but they may not disclose the identity of the infected individual to anyone other than public health agencies.

  1. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, does an employer have a duty to warn employees and others of potential exposure to the virus?

A:         Employers have a duty to maintain a safe workplace. The CDC has said that if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees and others who have had close contact with the diagnosed person to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms. Schools should seek the assistance of their local health department to assist with contact tracing to ensure all employees, students and others who may have been exposed are advised of the possibility and can take proper steps to avoid further spread of the virus. Coordinate with local health officials to communicate with staff, parents and students, and include messaging to counter potential stigma and discrimination. In all communications, maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

  1. Under what conditions may an employer exclude an employee from the workplace?

A:         Employers may lawfully exclude individuals with COVID-19, or those exhibiting its symptoms, from the workplace for health and safety reasons. Additionally, employers may send employees home if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat, recent loss of smell or taste, or gastrointestinal problems. Employees may also be excluded for refusing to answer questions or to submit to routine medical examinations. Employers should inquire whether the refusal results from confidentiality concerns and attempt to reassure the employee that medical information will be kept confidential.

  1. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, when may the employee return to work?

A:         You should follow the guidance of your local health department. Current CDC guidance says that those who had symptoms but were not tested may return to work under the following conditions:

  • At least 24 hours have passed since recovery, which is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
  • The improvement of respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, and
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who experience symptoms may return after these three things have happened:

  • The employee no longer has a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when the cough or shortness of breath have improved) and
  • The employee has received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.

Employees with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test who experience no symptoms may return to work:

  • when at least 10 days have passed with no illness, or
  • two consecutive COVID-19 tests, at least 24 hours apart, return negative results for infection.
     
  1. Should educational employers seek waivers of liability for COVID-19 exposure from employees before permitting them to return to work?

A:         KASB attorneys do not suggest requiring a waiver, which is not likely to shield the public employer from liability for actual negligence, and which could signal doubt about the ability to provide a safe working or educational environment.

  1. If an employee feels they have been exposed to COVID-19 at work, is this considered a Worker’s Compensation claim? 

A:         No.  Viral infection is not considered a work injury and the
            employer is not considered liable. 

  1.  If an employee has been advised to self-quarantine can he  employer require that employee to work from home?

            A:          Yes.  An employee can be required to work from home.

 

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