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Frequently asked questions about absences related to COVID-19

The DOE distributed this information in an FAQ to principals on March 24, 2020.

Q: Are staff still eligible for a non-attendance day absence based on COVID diagnoses and/or health department or doctor’s order to self-quarantine?
A: Yes. Under these conditions, employees should remain home and no deduction to CAR or annual leave will occur pursuant to Payroll Memo #13.

Q: Are staff still required to report an absence?
A: Yes. 

  • Employees should follow the protocols established by their work locations for reporting an absence.
  • Reporting may include electronic or telephonic communications to a general recipient (school absence hotline), communication to direct supervisor, copy to payroll/timekeeping, etc.
  • Protocol questions should be directed to your immediate supervisor.

Q: How are COVID staff absences recorded?
A: Payroll secretaries have been given guidance regarding how to code absences relating to coronavirus. As set forth in Personnel Memo #5, the DOE will observe a liberal attendance/leave policy and absences that are related to coronavirus will not be the basis for discipline.

COVID-19 illness or quarantine: Pursuant to Payroll Memo #13, staff absences based on an employee’s case of COVID-19, pursuant to a health department’s or doctor’s order to self-quarantine, or close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 shall be excused without a charge against an employee’s accrued sick leave.

Other medical absences: If an employee is unwell and has not been directed by a health department or doctor to stay at home due to COVID-19, the employee must use all available leave per the DOE payroll memorandum.

COVID-19 guidance and safety tips

Q: Are principals required to report absences or suspected coronavirus diagnoses (staff or student) to a central designee?
A: Yes. All staff absences are to be reported daily to the school timekeeper. All suspected coronavirus diagnoses must be reported to: stayinghealthy@schools.nyc.gov and the DOH at 347-396-7990.

Q: Is a principal required to report a coronavirus diagnoses (either staff or student) in
OORS?

A: Yes. The OORS code is N08 Medical.

Q: How is a staff member’s absence recorded because the staff member’s child’s school is closed?
A: If the staff member is caring for a family member who is home due to COVID-19 related illness or quarantine, or is caring for a minor whose school has been closed for COVID- 19 related reasons, the staff member shall be permitted to utilize CAR or sick days, over the existing limit of three such days per year.

  • They may also borrow up to 30 days and use absences without pay as described in the March 11 memo entitled, “Daily Timekeeping Entry and Use of CAR/Sick days Related to COVID-19”.
  • Staff members should not bring their children to work, unless they are working in a REC and have an email confirming enrollment at that specific location.

Q: What if anything should be done with respect to teachers that are currently on a leave of absence?
A: All leaves continue as previously approved. Supervisors should email staff members that are expected to return before April 20, 2020 to discuss working remotely and how to provide appropriate support and directions.

  • If a substitute has been covering the class while teacher is out on leave they should
    continue to report and teach the class remotely.

Q: Are there any changes to study sabbatical applications for the 2020-2021 school year?
A: This issue is under review.

Q: Will DOE allow online coursework for study sabbaticals during this crisis?
A: Yes, for 2020-2021 only, if the college/university has transitioned to an online delivery model.

Q: Do current rules/regulations apply with respect to requests for time off for religious observance?
A: Yes.

Q: Are employees still eligible for a reasonable medical accommodations?
A: Yes and for accommodations related to the COVID-19 virus, staff should email: COVIDtimekeeping@schools.nyc.gov or speak to their immediate supervisors to explore accommodations.

Q: Are staff members still eligible for other leaves (e.g. restoration of health)?
A: Yes. All DOE leave policies are still in place.