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Q&A on the Issues

COVID-related leaves, absences and quarantines

New York Teacher
A man getting a COVID shot
Jonathan Fickies

As UFT members continue to meet the many challenges of this school year, we’ve gathered additional answers to members’ most frequently asked questions about absences, remote office hours and other important topics related to COVID-19. Check our 2021–22 school FAQ for more complete guidance.

If I have side effects and feel sick after taking the COVID-19 vaccine, am I entitled to paid time off?

Yes, you are. You can take up to two days of excused leave at full pay if you have a fever lasting less than 24 hours. You can take up to two workweeks of excused leave if you are not feeling well enough to work and have a longer-lasting fever or exhibit fatigue, a headache, chills, muscle aches, joint pain or nausea. Employees with those symptoms who stay out of work for more than three days following a vaccination must provide documentation they sought a COVID-19 test during their leave. They must use their own sick leave for any additional time taken after receiving a negative test result or if they did not seek diagnostic testing.

If I have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not tested positive, must I use CAR days if I am absent?

You may take an excused leave at full pay for up to two weeks, but must also provide documentation that you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking diagnosis of COVID-19 with a PCR test within three days after you exhibited symptoms.

If I test positive for COVID-19, how much paid leave time am I eligible to receive?

If you have a documented, positive COVID-19 test and are unable to work remotely, you are eligible for excused leave at full pay without needing to use CAR days until you are cleared to return to work. Excused leave may not exceed four calendar weeks. If you are hospitalized, you can continue to receive excused leave until 10 working days after you have been released from the hospital or rehabilitation facility.

Will I be paid if my child has to quarantine and needs to study remotely?

If you are caring for a child or other family member subject to a quarantine, you may be eligible for 12 weeks of excused leave at partial pay. Partial pay equals two-thirds of your regular rate of pay, not to exceed $200 per day or a total of $2,000. You must demonstrate that this individual depends on you for care and you are unable to work remotely while providing care. You may also use CAR days, annual leave or sick leave instead of excused leave at partial pay, but it cannot exceed a total of 12 weeks.

Are fully vaccinated staff required to quarantine if they have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

No. Vaccinated members who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 do not have to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. However, vaccinated people should still get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if they do not show symptoms of COVID-19.

Will vaccinated staff who test positive for COVID-19 need to quarantine?

Yes. Vaccinated members who test positive would not pass the DOE’s health screening and could not enter a school building. If a vaccinated staff member tests positive, a 10-day quarantine would be required.

When do students need to quarantine if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual?

Unvaccinated students who have consistently worn their mask and were 3 feet or more apart from a positive student in their classroom will not need to quarantine. However, if the student who tested positive was unmasked (during lunch, for example), an unvaccinated student within 6 feet of a positive student for more than 10 minutes would be quarantined. The principal, in consultation with the classroom teacher and other staff, will make a recommendation about which students must quarantine. The principal will share this information with the city’s test and trace unit, and the DOE’s situation room will make the final decision.

Positive COVID-19 cases for adults no longer result in the quarantine of the entire classroom. Vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine unless they have COVID-like symptoms. 

What if some of my students are required to quarantine but others are not?

Teachers and related service providers who are not directed to quarantine themselves will engage quarantined students via remote asynchronous instruction and be available for office hours. Students not required to quarantine will be taught in person.

Do I need to work from my school building if my entire class is in quarantine?

The union’s position is that the teacher should be allowed to work remotely, but the principal has the discretion to ask the teacher to come in as needed. If your principal requires you to report to the building for the whole 10 days of the quarantine, ask your chapter leader to file an operational issues complaint on your behalf.

What work will I need to provide to quarantining students during office hours? When will office hours occur?

Office Hours may consist of:

  • Posting asynchronous assignments.
  • Providing individual or small group synchronous instruction, support or tutoring to students.
  • Emailing or checking in on assignments.

A minimum of one to two office hours must be provided per week of a partial class closure to quarantining students. You will be compensated at the per-session rate. Middle and high school staff will also receive one additional hour of per-session pay per additional course taught (not section). Additional hours can be requested based on your workload.

Office hours will be conducted at the teacher/related service provider’s discretion and can occur:

  • During prep periods or lunch periods (with additional per-session pay) during the school day.
  • After school hours paid at the per-session rate and subject to supervisory approval.
Related Topics: Coronavirus