Teachers can quickly run out of paid time off with repeated COVID exposure

Reporter: Michael Hudak
Published: Updated:

Teachers are working to keep our schools safe during the pandemic, and that means quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. But how much time off do they have before dipping into their own Paid Time Off (PTO) for quarantine?

We asked, what is the process once a teacher’s been exposed?

First, policies change from district to district, but in most cases, teachers and staff have “COVID leave days.”

Most districts are giving upwards of 10 days for COVID leave. That’s on top of normal time off, and personal paid time off for non-COVID-related sickness or exposure.

These “COVID leave days” are also used if you’ve been exposed to someone who had COVID and are forced to quarantine as a result.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association says everyone involved in this situation is frustrated.

“We were all feeling like we were going to go back to a somewhat normal school year,” he explained. “And then the variant hit a few weeks before the school year began. And we saw this huge spike of cases in Florida impacting our children impacting adults as well. And so there was a frustration in the fact that, man, I thought we were going to go back to a normal situation. And unfortunately, we’re going back having to talk about face masks having to talk about extra cleaning and socially distancing from each other.”

So what happens when those 10 COVID leave days run out?

The answer is that you will start burning into your earned paid time off, and then if you run out of those, you’ll be forced to sit out from work without pay.

Spar is also calling on the state to do more.

He said, “Some schools have reported as many in some cases of 50% of their faculty, staff, and students being out at any given time. That’s a disruption to the learning process. And what we’ve been calling on the governor to do is to release The funds that the district need districts need that have come from the federal government somewhere in the neighborhood of about $8 billion. So that they can take other measures like extra cleaning and sanitizing extra air purifiers, upgrading air conditioning units, in addition to COVID, leave, and other measures.”

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