Admin

COVID-19: FAQ for Staff

Alleghany County Public Schools

March 30, 2020

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Staff

 

Human Resources Procedures for School Closures Related to COVID-19

 

The health and safety of Alleghany County Public Schools (ACPS) employees is important to us.  Toward that end, we have taken steps and will continue to take necessary steps to minimize potential risks associated with the current pandemic.  During school closing, all ACPS contracted employees will receive their regular pay and are expected to perform all responsibilities and duties—whether from home or, in limited cases, on school grounds—that have been specifically assigned to them by a supervisor.  If an employee cannot perform the assigned responsibilities or duties, the employee must immediately contact the supervisor and explain why such assigned responsibilities and duties cannot be performed and to discuss appropriate leave options.

 

General Information:

 

  1. These procedures are in response to the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic and the State of Emergency declared by the Governor.  It is intended to provide assistance to employees by establishing relaxed leave procedures based on school closings. 

 

  1. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are generally prohibited from asking medical/disability related questions of an employee.  However, during a pandemic or declared emergency, an employer can request some information.  Accordingly, supervisors may ask employees if they are experiencing any Coronavirus (COVID 19) related symptoms but may not ask about underlying chronic medical conditions. 

 

  1. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness (such as fever, dry cough, noticeable shortness of breath), or other flu symptoms (such as sore throat, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue) should stay home and not come to work. 

 

  1. Employees who report to work and are symptomatic, or who begin to show symptoms during the work day, will be sent home and appropriate leave procedures will apply.

 

  1. The normal practice of requiring medical certification after three (3) consecutive days to substantiate an absence from work will not be required during this time. 

 

  1. Employees should remain at home for at least 72 hours after they are free of fever and other symptoms, without the use of fever-reducing medications. 

 

Working from Home 

 

  1. Employees performing their assigned duties will continue to be paid and will work normal or adjusted daily hours.  
  2. If you become too ill to complete tasks assigned, you will need to enter your leave into AESOP in the same manner as a regular sick day.  When creating an absence in AESOP, please select “no” under “substitute required” during mandatory school closures.  Please email or call your direct supervisor if you are unable to perform your assigned duties.
  3. If you or a family member in your household has been tested for COVID-19 and you are unable to complete your assignments, contact the Human Resources Department to discuss leave options.
  4. Employees currently on FMLA will remain on FMLA.  Documentation from a medical provider must be provided in order to be exited from the FMLA process and allowed to return to work.

 

 Reporting to Work 

 

  1. Due to these unforeseen circumstances, employees will likely be assigned duties they may not typically have been assigned in order to assist with continuity and equity of instruction.
  2. Employees performing their assigned duties will continue to be paid and will work normal or adjusted daily hours.  
  3. Employees who are unable to report to work for any reason should contact their supervisor who will consult with the Human Resources Department to discuss leave options. Employees will need to enter leave into AESOP in the same manner as a regular absence.  When creating an absence in AESOP, please select “no” under “substitute required” during mandatory school closures.

 

COVID-19 Impacting Employee’s Ability to Work 

 

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

 

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

 

  1. People aged 65 years and older.
  2. People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
  3. Other high-risk conditions could include:
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
  • People who have serious heart conditions.
  • People who are immune-compromised including cancer treatment
  • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk.
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.

 

Many conditions can cause a person to be immune-compromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

 

Any ACPS employee who is considered high-risk by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) described above are encouraged to work from home, contact your health care provider for guidance, and contact the Human Resources Department.

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

 

The federal government has provided emergency paid sick leave for all regularly employed staff up to 10 days or 80 hours if you meet any one of the following circumstances:

 

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in the first bullet above or has been advised as described in the second bullet above.
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor. An employer of an employee who is a health care provider or an emergency responder may elect to exclude such employee from the application of this reason.

 

The federal government has also made temporary changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) in response to COVID-19 for any employee who is unable to work as a result of this public health emergency, including the need for child care if the child care provider is not available. 

 

Any ACPS employee who meets any of these criteria should immediately contact the Human Resources Department.

 

Employee Contracts

As is our practice, we anticipate the ACPS School Board to consider for approval all anticipated 2020-2021 staff at its regularly scheduled meeting on April 20, 2020.  We also anticipate that the fiscal year 2021 budget, which was approved by the school board on March 19, 2020, will have to be amended given the recent revenue update provided to state legislators by Aubrey Layne, Secretary of Finance for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Secretary Layne projected that the state’s fiscal year 2021 revenues, due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact, may be $1 billion less than the revenue forecast upon which the General Assembly’s approved fiscal year 2021 budget is based. We do not anticipate any reduction in staffing levels as a result of the state’s projected revenue shortfall, but the issuance of employment contracts may be delayed pending revised state funding allocations to our school division and any resultant impact such revised allocations may have on our salary administration plan.

 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES

 

Payroll

Payroll processing will continue as normal and established pay dates are still in effect.

 

Accounts Payable and Receivable

Accounts payable and receivable processes will continue as normal.

 

Health Insurance Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment period for health insurance will be from April 15, 2020 – April 30, 2020. As has been done in previous years, an e-mail with an enrollment form and specific health insurance plan information will be sent to all full-time employees in early April. This e-mail will be repeated two more times during the Open Enrollment period. In addition, a School Messenger alert about Open Enrollment will be sent to employees in early April with a follow-up message one week later. Employees who are currently enrolled in our health insurance plan and wish to continue such without changes for 2020-2021 do not have to do anything; they will automatically be re-enrolled with the same plan and coverage level.

 

Cafeteria Plan/Section 125 Open Enrollment (American Fidelity)

In prior years, American Fidelity representatives have been on site in all of our schools and locations in late-March and early-April to meet face-to-face with each full-time employee. In fact, the schedule for this year had already been provided to principals and administrators and was set to begin the week of March 29. That is, obviously, not going to happen now. An alternative plan is currently being finalized with American Fidelity. Tentatively, we plan to hold an Open Enrollment period from May 18 – June 5. An informational e-mail regarding this will be sent to employees prior to May 18 and will be repeated two more times during the Open Enrollment period. Employees’ current voluntary benefits elections (e.g. disability insurance, cancer insurance, health savings account) and their pre-tax/post-tax withholding election with American Fidelity will automatically rollover and continue for 2020-2021. Employees wishing to add, delete, or change benefits or their pre-tax/post-tax election will be provided means via which to communicate with an American Fidelity representative regarding such. Employees with flexible spending accounts (FSA) will receive a separate, individual communication with information regarding their annual contribution amounts and will be required to communicate with an American Fidelity representative to update their information for 2020-2021.