Updated health screening guidance, released March 19, 2021
DOE updated timekeeping guidance, released Jan. 15, 2021
To read the DOE's full guidance on COVID-19 related personnel issues, go to: DOE PERSONNEL MEMORANDUM NO. 2, 2020-2021
Can UFT-represented employees without on-site duties work remotely?
Staff members may work remotely if their assigned duties can be performed remotely, they do not have any responsibility for any students in the building, and they are not otherwise needed on-site, as determined by their supervisor.
Principals may require up to 20% of the staff working remotely (not including those with medical accommodations) to remain or report on site for coverages, required in-person meetings and the fulfillment of in-person IEP mandates. That 20% should be made up of staff who would prefer to perform their remote responsibilities from the school building. If not enough people want to work from the school building, in-person assignments for remote staff should be equally distributed.
Staff members who are remote can be notified by their supervisor to report to work in-person with reasonable notice. Notice should be given during the workday preceding the day they are required to work in person.
What are the rules regarding assigning remote teacher programs?
Teachers with approved medical accommodations must be assigned to remote teaching programs. In some cases, schools may have more fully remote programs for teachers than they have teachers on approved medical accommodations. In these cases, principals should give priority to teachers who are documented primary caregivers of a family member who they live with and who is at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Teachers may submit proof of their eligibility for consideration for a remote teaching assignment using the Self-Service Online Leave Application (SOLAS). The DOE will review the documentation to determine if the teacher meets the criteria. If the teacher is determined to be eligible, the DOE will notify both the teacher and that teacher's principal.
This provision only mandates placement "to the extent possible." There may be reasons placement isn’t possible, including that there is no available fully remote program or the teacher does not have the appropriate credentials for the available program.
Principals should make every effort to assign teachers to a program that is exclusively of one type (in-person or fully remote or blended remote). In the limited instances where a teacher has a partial program of one type, the balance of the teacher’s program may be of another type. This requirement may be modified through the school-based option process.
I have a remote program, but I prefer to work from the school building. Can I do that?
Yes, if your school is able to provide the proper space and equipment, and follow safety guidelines and procedures, you can work on-site.
If an in-person teacher is programmed for in-person classes in the morning, but all remote classes in the afternoon, can they perform their afternoon responsibilities remotely?
Yes. If your schedule permits and the work can be done remotely. Supervisors can direct you to be on-site if you are needed.
If an in-person teacher is programmed for in-person classes in the morning and remote classes in the afternoon, can they be assigned an in-person coverage in the afternoon?
Yes, during an afternoon professional period/C6.
I do not have a medical accommodation. Could I be assigned to work remotely?
Yes, if there are additional remote staffing needs besides those teachers with accommodations, you could be assigned to work remotely.
I do not have a medical accommodation, but I have been assigned to work remotely. Could that change at some point during the school year?
Yes, if you do not have a medical accommodation, you could be asked to work in-person at some time in the future.
What are some duties of teachers that could be performed remotely?
Teachers who are working remotely, in full or in part, may perform various tasks remotely, including but not limited to these listed below:
• Teaching remote classes
• Communicating with students and families
• Planning lessons
• Uploading content to their online classroom
• Participating in remote IEP meetings
• Conducting remote annual reviews
• Participating in remote PD, faculty or departmental meetings
• Office Hours (If the time of Office Hours changes, this would require the employee and the principal to find a mutually agreeable time to conduct office hours; alternatively, could be done remotely via SBO.)
• Instructional Coordination (Applies to all staff who are involved in Instructional Coordination; if the time of Instructional Coordination changes, this would require the employees and the principal to find a mutually agreeable time to conduct Instructional Coordination; alternatively, could be done remotely via SBO.)
Can a teacher visit their school if they are teaching remotely to pick up materials to teach at home?
Yes, arrangements should be made with the principal to find a safe time to do this.
Absences related to COVID-19
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 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Will I be paid if I am directed to self-quarantine due to exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If a health care provider advises you to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, there will be no charge to your CAR or annual leave for up to 10 working days. Staff who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. To be considered fully vaccinated by CDC guidelines, two weeks must have passed since you received the second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks must have passed since you received a single-dose vaccine.
Will staff get time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Members will receive up to two hours of paid release time per vaccine dose. You must provide at least three days of advance notice to your principal/supervisor for any such absence so appropriate coverage can be arranged. You will need to provide documentation of the appointment as well as your receipt of the vaccine to your administrator.
If I have side effects after taking the COVID-19 vaccine and feel sick, am I entitled to paid time off?
Yes. You can take up to eight days of excused leave at full pay for symptoms related to vaccine side effects, such as fatigue, fever, headaches, chills and nausea. If you have more moderate side effects, you may be able to use up to two excused days. If you are absent for more than two days, you must provide documentation showing you took a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 diagnostic test during the leave period and the date you received your test results. You must use your own sick leave time for any additional time taken or if you do not receive a COVID-19 test.
I have been notified to quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19 for the second time this school year. How much excused leave time can I use before I need to use my CAR days?
Members receive two weeks of paid excused leave for COVID-related absences, even if they have multiple or repeat qualifying circumstances. After you have used up the maximum amount of two weeks, any additional time needed will be charged to your CAR balance.
Do school staff and students who have traveled out of state need to quarantine before returning to school?
As of April 1, 2021, New York State does not require residents to quarantine after travel within the U.S., but it is still required following international travel. See the latest New York travel advisories.
If I travel internationally and am required to quarantine upon my return, am I eligible to use paid leave time to cover that absence?
No. Quarantine required as a result of a government travel advisory is not eligible for excused leave and you must use your CAR balance to cover your absence.
How is timekeeping and attendance different this year for remote teachers?
Remote staff members are expected to work the equivalent of their regular hours. The roles of remote staff may differ from traditional, in-person work but must be consistent with members’ titles. A member who refuses to perform their assigned work will have their accrued leave charged and may be subject to discipline. Supervisors and members should work together to identify work activities members have the technical capacity to perform. If a remote worker cannot perform their regular hours from home and are not designated to work in person, the member will not have the time charged to CAR/annual leave for the hours not worked and instead will be granted an emergency absence without pay.
Leaves related to COVID-19
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 a member has COVID-19 and needs hospital care, how long will they continue to be paid?
If a member has COVID-19 and is hospitalized or needs to enter a rehabilitation facility, they may continue to receive paid, excused leave until two calendar weeks after being released from a health care facility.
Are members who work part-time eligible to take a leave if they test positive for COVID-19 or are under quarantine orders, etc?
Part-time employees may receive excused leave for the number of hours that the employee is expected to work over a two week period. If expected hours cannot be readily determined, part-time employees may receive excused leave for the average number of hours that the employee worked over a two week period over the six months preceding the leave.
Will I be paid if I am caring for someone who is under quarantine or isolation order?
If you are caring for an individual subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order, you are eligible for two 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 that cannot exceed a total of two weeks.
Will I be paid if I am caring for someone who is at a heightened risk associated with COVID-19 exposure (e.g. underlying medical condition, age, etc.)?
If you are caring for an individual who is self-quarantining because of heightened risk associated with exposure to COVID-19, you are eligible for two 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 that cannot exceed a total of two weeks.
What type of documentation am I required to submit before applying for a COVID-related leave of absence?
A member must be able to provide proof, such as documentation from a health care provider, school, day care provider and/or governmental order as applicable. CAR rules regarding medical documentation will be relaxed so members may self-certify for COVID-19 related absences. However, supervisors may request documentation if there is a question about reasonableness of the time taken or other concerns, and extended leaves may be subject to further medical review by the DOE.
Can I take a leave of absence due to a mental health diagnosis?
What should I do if I don't have childcare for my own children if their school/child care provider is closed?
If you are caring for your child under 18 years of age, whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions, you are eligible for two 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 be able to demonstrate that your child depends on you for care and you are unable to work remotely. You may also be required to submit documentation to show that the school or child care provider has been closed.
You may continue to take excused leave at partial pay for up to an additional ten weeks, provided you have worked at least 30 days of the previous 365 days, per the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. You may also use CAR days, annual leave, or sick leave instead of excused leave at partial pay but that cannot exceed a total of 12 weeks.
If your child is enrolled in a NYC public school in 3K through 8th grade, they may be eligible to attend the Department of Education’s Learning Bridges program on days when they are learning remotely. Children of DOE employees will receive priority in the program. You can learn more about Learning Bridges and apply.
Are schools permitted to create remote per session activities?
Yes. The recent DOE-UFT MOA specifically permits per session work.
Has anything changed with respect to how per session activities are created and posted?
No. Schools still determine what per session activities shall be created (subject to DOE budget approval), the selection criteria, duties and responsibilities.
Can per-session activities be done remotely?
Yes, per-session can be done remotely, and retention rights will be protected.
Can a per session posting indicate that the activity takes place in person?
Yes. Certain tasks (such as bus duty, in-person tutoring, study groups) may only be able to be performed in-person.
What happens if a remote teacher holds retention rights to a position that can only be done in-person?
If a retention rights holder is unable to perform a per session activity due to a medical accommodation, that employee will not lose retention rights.
Are schools obligated to cover a remote teacher's absence?
No. Schools do not need to cover remote classes in the event a remote teacher is absent. Schools are permitted to cover the absent teacher if they choose to do so. Principals should work with remote teachers to ensure that asynchronous activities are available on days they are absent.
What happens when there is not enough staff in the building to cover assignments?
Schools can and should continue to use sub-Central to cover absences, wherever possible. The UFT has been telling the DOE and City Hall for months that they have a staffing problem that cannot be solved through instructional guidance. The staffing problem needs to be addressed in order for schools to open safely and for schools to operate well.
How do I initiate a complaint about working conditions?
Speak with your chapter leader about filing an operational issues complaint.
How does this agreement impact an open operational issue/s that was filed regarding a school's program?
Given that schools have the ability to approve the current instructional model with a SBO, the related operational issue may be moot as resolved. The operational issue will resume only if the school is unable to resolve it through the SBO process.
Can teachers resume filing grievances?
The grievance process reopened on Feb. 8 for paraprofessionals, school nurses and therapists who are terminated for cause — not due to certification. This week, the UFT and the DOE reopened the process for grievances concerning salary and leaves. For those types of cases, chapter leaders should now follow the standard procedures and direct members wishing to file salary grievances through their borough office.
The DOE and UFT have agreed that, at the moment, other contractual grievances are temporarily on hold. However, there are two processes that are currently in place and may be utilized by teachers/chapter leaders: (1) the Reorganization/Program Process and (2) the Paperwork and Operational Issues. UFT-represented employees should consult the grievance department at the UFT.