When a teacher is absent, the principal should always attempt to cover that class, preferably with a substitute teacher or member of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool. When a substitute is not available, the principal should first ask for volunteers and, if that doesn’t work, can assign you to provide coverage. As a last resort, the principal can break up the class and spread it students among similar classes.
In elementary schools, the practice of breaking up classes is strongly discouraged; if this is a common occurrence in your school, you should notify your chapter leader and district representative immediately. Except in an emergency, your preparation period should not be lost to involuntary class coverage. Principals should always seek volunteers before assigning someone involuntarily to cover a class.
If you teach in a secondary school, you can be assigned class coverage on your preparation or professional period. Just as in the elementary school, principals should seek volunteers before assigning someone involuntarily.
Regardless of whether you teach in an elementary or secondary school, all class coverages should be assigned on a rotating basis among those who volunteer to provide coverage. You don’t get paid for your first class coverage per term, but you will be paid for each additional coverage — whether assigned voluntarily or involuntarily — at the contractual rate of pay. In secondary schools, teachers providing homeroom coverage will be paid when the amount of time covered is equivalent to one full period.
When the normal school schedule is changed for either parent/teacher conferences, a clerical half-day, or a standardized testing day, if you perform such duties when you are regularly scheduled to have a preparation period, you will not be paid for this time except in elementary schools, where the principal is required to reschedule your lost preparation period within five school days.