How Districts are Addressing FFCRA Now
The health and wellbeing of our school workforce is top priority as we look at reopening schools and having our teachers back in classrooms. On December 31st the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (FFCRA) leave requirements expired, allowing emergency paid "sick leave" and expanded "family and medical leave" requirements no longer mandated. AASPA asked our members, "With the ending of FFCRA funding, how is your district planning to address leave and quarantine requests related to COVID-19 and will your district be covering the cost to fund this?" See below what some leaders and districts are doing.
The Denton ISD, Denton, TX Board of Trustees passed a resolution to extend The FFCRA funding through the end of the 2020-2021 school year for employees to use up to 80 hours of paid sick leave according to the terms of the FFCRA. Our Board felt this helps to serve the public purposes of protecting the health and safety of students and staff, maintaining morale, and reducing employee turnover. Yes, our district will be covering the cost for the funding. – Dr. Robert Stewart, Assistant Superintendent, Denton Independent School District – Denton, TX
Our administrative recommendation to the board was two part. We recommended that we let the FFCRA expire on December 31st but at the same time recommended a new policy that includes extra leave for COVID related absences. Employees must first use their personal illness leave for a COVID related absence. If the employee exhausts their leave they may receive additional paid leave in the amount of their unused FFCRA balance. If the employee exhausted their FFCRA balance then they can use their personal business leave, vacation leave and finally unpaid leave. In our district employees can use some of their personal illness days for family illness. This year we decided that they can use the entirety of their sick leave balance earned in this fiscal year for COVID related absences of immediate family members. For example, I earned 15 sick days this year. That means I can use all 15 for family illness if it is for a COVID related absence. This does not mean that someone with 50 days of sick leave could use all 50 for this purpose. We decided to go this route because FFCRA has always been an unfunded mandate. This policy includes some of what our teachers union asked for but not everything. We thought that this was the best way to extend extra protection to employees and at the same time be conscious of our budget needs. – Anthony Spurgetis, Director of Human Resources, Johnston Community School District - Johnston, IA
Abington School District is allowing employees who are in isolation or quarantined due to an exposure to a person ill with COVID-19 to use accumulated sick, personal or vacation time. If an employee is quarantined due to travel, the employee may use accumulated personal or vacation time. If an employee does not have any accumulated time off, the district will consider an unpaid leave of absence. – Jennifer Williams, Human Resource Coordinator, Abington School District - Abington, PA
Our district is offering faculty members whose children’s schools closed or are in hybrid due to COVID, the opportunity to work remote from home 3 days per week and come to campus 2 days per week. We started this program in the fall so that our teaching staff would not have to take FFCRA leave. Our goal was to keep our teachers teaching our students. For COVID related symptoms or quarantine, we allow faculty members to work remotely from home. The district is paying for the costs of having supervisors in the classrooms for students attending in person. For our support staff members we have created a COVID sick leave bank so that they do not have to use their own benefit days. Many of these staff members are not able to work remotely when quarantined as the essential functions of their jobs require them to be on campus. Each staff member contributed one benefit day and the district matched the number of days. – Dr. Renee Zoladz, Director of Human Resources, New Trier High School - Winnetka, IL
Henry County Schools in Georgia is voluntarily offering employees Paid Sick Leave (HCSPSL) from January 4 – March 31, 2021, as an extension of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) emergency paid sick leave that expired on December 31, 2020. If an employee must quarantine and remote work is not available, the employee may use HCSPSL for up to ten days. If the employee exhausted the ten Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) days offered under FFCRA (April – December, 2020), HCSPSL is not available. Therefore, the employee must use his/her own accrued sick leave.
The reasons an employee is entitled to HCSPSL:
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for a child or spouse who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
We accommodate to remote work as much as possible; therefore, the costs associated with HCSPSL are minimal. – Valerie Suessmith, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resource Services, Henry County Public Schools - McDonough, GA
Our district will be implementing a modified FFCRA that continues to give our employees 10 paid pandemic leave (PPL) days, but changes somewhat the COVID-19 related reasons for absences. The district will be covering the cost to fund this. In addition to the PPL, we are going to create a COVID-19 Sick Leave Bank that full-time employees can join by donating at least one sick day from their own accrual. They would then qualify for up to 5 sick bank days after they have used up their PPL. – Ruth Green, Director of Human Resources, Laurens School District #56 - Clinton, SC