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Absences related to COVID-19

Read the DOE's UPDATED Personnel Memo No. 1 of the 2021-22 school year and see Personnel Memo No. 6 regarding time off to receive boosters and children's vaccines. 

See the UFT's COVID timekeeping chart to determine how much time you are allowed to be excused for a COVID-related event and documentation that is required. 

Testing positive

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 while symptoms persist, but must also provide documentation that you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking diagnosis with a COVID-19 test within three days after you exhibited symptoms. 

How soon may I return to work after testing positive for COVID-19?

Teachers and school-based staff may return to work on Day 6 after testing positive for COVID-19 only if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and symptoms are improving. 

If an individual has no symptoms but tested positive, the individual must isolate for five days, with Day 0 being the day the test was collected. If symptoms develop within five days of testing positive, the five-day isolation count must restart, with Day 0 being the day symptoms started. 

In addition, from Day 6 through Day 10, the positive staff member must consistently and correctly wear a well-fitting higher level face covering, such as a KN95 mask. Staff working under this policy must continue to stay at home outside of school hours, take precautions to avoid household transmission, and observe other required elements of isolation while not at work until the end of the 10-day period.

If a staff member is still experiencing symptoms that are not improving beyond five days, they should continue to isolate from Days 6 to 10 and are still eligible for excused leave at full pay without the use of CAR days.

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 while you are in an isolation period or have symptoms that prevent you from working without needing to use CAR days. Excused leave may not exceed four calendar weeks. If you are hospitalized, you can continue to receive excused leave until two calendar weeks (10 working days) after you have been released from the hospital or rehabilitation facility. 

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 will continue to receive excused leave until two calendar weeks (10 working days) after they have been released from the hospital or rehabilitation facility.

Would I be eligible for an excused leave if I test positive again for COVID-19 within three months?

Individuals who test positive within three months after recovering from your first COVID-19 infection will not receive COVID-excused leave during that three-month period unless you are exhibiting new COVID-19 symptoms.

Are members who work part-time eligible to take a leave if they test positive for COVID-19 or are under quarantine orders? 

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.

Getting the vaccine & side effects

Will staff get time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and/or receive a booster shot?

Members will receive up to four hours of paid release time per vaccine dose and/or booster shot. 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 or booster to your administrator.

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

Yes, if symptoms develop within three days after receiving a vaccine or booster dose.

If your only symptom is a fever lasting less than 24 hours after receiving the vaccine, you are eligible for excused leave at full pay for up to two days. If your fever lasts more than 24 hours after receiving the vaccine, you are eligible for excused leave for up to two weeks. However, if you are out of work for more than three days, you must if you show documentation of a COVID-19 diagnostic test during your absence and the date you received the results. You must use your own sick leave for additional time taken after receiving a negative test result or if you do not seek diagnostic testing.

If you have symptoms of fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea or vomiting with no fever, you are eligible for excused leave at full pay for up to two weeks. However, if you are absent for more than three days, you must provide documentation showing you took a COVID-19 diagnostic test during your absence and the date you received the results. You must use your own sick leave for additional time taken after receiving a negative test result or if you do not seek diagnostic testing.

If you exhibit symptoms other than those described above that are consistent with vaccine side effects and cannot work or work remotely, you may be eligible for excused leave at full pay for up to two consecutive weekdays. You must use your own sick leave balance for any additional time taken.

Can I receive excused time off to take my own child to receive each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine? 

Members may take up to four hours of excused leave for travel during scheduled work hours to accompany their child or children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for each required dose of the vaccine. Any additional time off must be charged to the employee’s leave balances. Members with more than one eligible child should make every effort to schedule the vaccination appointments at the same time. In all instances, any time utilized beyond the four hour period will be charged against the employee’s sick leave.

Members should notify their administration at least three calendar days before their child’s or children’s scheduled administration of the vaccine. Documentation of the scheduled vaccination time and the receipt of each required vaccination, including the date and time of administration, must be provided.

Care for others

Will I be paid if I am caring for someone who must quarantine?

If you are caring for an individual subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order, you may be eligible for up to 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. All DOE employees are eligible for this leave including school nurses.

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.

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

If you are caring for an individual subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order, 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. All DOE employees are eligible for this leave including school nurses.

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.

Excused leave time

What type of documentation am I required to submit before applying for a COVID-related leave of absence?

DOE employees must be able to provide documentation, if requested, to support their request for an excused leave at full or partial pay. This documentation could be from a health care provider, a school, a daycare provider, and/or governmental order, as applicable. Extended leaves may be subject to further medical review by DOE.

I am at heightened risk of becoming very sick from COVID-19 (because of underlying conditions, age, etc.). My doctor advised me to self-quarantine due to exposure to someone who tested positive. Am I eligible for excused leave time? 

Yes, you are eligible for excused leave time if you are unable to work remotely. You must provide documentation, if requested, from a licensed health care provider stating that you are unable to work in person as a result of the need to quarantine.

Quarantines

If I travel 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. You must use your CAR balance to cover your absence. 

I have been notified to quarantine for the second time this school year. How much excused leave time can I use before I need to use my CAR days?

Members can receive two weeks of paid excused leave for COVID-related absences, even if they have multiple or repeat qualifying circumstances, without charges to your CAR bank. After you have used up the maximum amount of two weeks, any additional time needed will be charged to your CAR balance.