FROM THE LAWYER’S DESK
By: Larry Samuel, JFT General Counsel
JFT members have asked excellent questions about how the school district is supposed to handle certain situations involving COVID-19. This is the first of a series of articles responding to the questions. If you have additional questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is the protocol when someone has symptoms but has not (yet) tested positive for COVID-19? For example, a class and the homeroom teacher are quarantined for two weeks because of concerning symptoms. Many of the students - whose families we know are not insured or are under insured - never get tested, so we never get a positive or a negative result from them. But peripheral people who came in contact with that class are concerned.
RESPONSE: This is a major concern in all schools. The potential for exposure is serious, and employees must necessarily rely on the employer to conduct the contact tracing in good faith. CDC recently revised its guidance. The new guidance states that an employee is at risk of contracting COVID if you were within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the 48 hours before the infected person exhibited symptoms or, if asymptomatic, 48 hours before the COVID-19 test was administered, even if the interaction that led to a total of 15 minutes was brief and spread out over that time.
RECOMMENDATION: When a student or coworker is absent, and you are concerned that it may be a COVID-19 situation and that you are at risk because you came into contact with the person, we suggest that you go to the nurse and ask if you were considered to have had close contact. If you still have questions, report this on the JFT reporting form and it will be investigated.
2. We have been told that it only counts as close contact for notification purposes if both parties have their masks off for the full 15 minutes. Is that accurate?
RESPONSE: No, it is not accurate. To attain the full benefit of the face covering, persons must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet with both persons wearing the covering over their nose and mouth. CDC recently revised its guidance. The new CDC guidance states that an employee is at risk of contracting COVID if you were within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the 48 hours before the infected person exhibited symptoms or, if asymptomatic, 48 hours before the COVID-19 test was administered, even if the interaction that led to a total of 15 minutes was brief and spread out over that time.
RECOMMENDATION: Report this on the JFT reporting form.
3. We have been told that the principal is not required to report a positive case if the principal did not hear about it until several days after the positive. Is that accurate?
RESPONSE: That is incorrect. The principal should still report it.
RECOMMENDATION: Use the JFT reporting form.
4. Is the teacher of record allowed to know the identity of the student who tests positive?
RESPONSE: No. Because of confidentiality requirements, the school is not allowed to disclose the student’s identity.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are concerned that you are at risk because you may have come into contact with the person who you believe has COVID-19, we suggest that you go to the nurse and ask if you were considered to have had close contact. If you still have questions, report this on the JFT reporting form and it will be investigated.
5. If a student reports to us that they feel sick and stayed home, and we referred them to the office, how is a school supposed to proceed with ensuring that the student gets tested?
RESPONSE: The school nurse is supposed to obtain verification from the parent.
RECOMMENDATION: Follow up with the school nurse.
** JFT REPORTING FORM: https://forms.gle/RqQaiozkbvrCcxJo9
SAVE THE DATE
JFT General Membership Meeting
Thursday, December 17, 2020 5:30 P.M.
This meeting will be conducted virtually. To register for this meeting, click here.
Winter Educator Academy
Registration is open for the 2021 “10 Trauma-Informed Strategies to Help Students Heal,” the remote version of the union’s Student Trauma professional learning course. Courses start in January and registration is on a first come first serve basis.
Participants will explore ways that adversity impacts learners’ developing brains, bodies, and behaviors – as well as strategies to promote resilience. Learn more about the course schedule and register using the following link: http://go.aft.org/aftpd2020
Course Description: Participants will learn and practice ten research-based trauma-informed practices to boost student resilience. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how adversity can impact children’s developing brains, bodies, and behaviors. They will also explore universal primary prevention strategies that promote healing after various traumatic events.
The remote delivery format does not cover all AFT “Student Trauma” course content. Rather, this special edition offering is designed to be immediately applicable with attention to the global coronavirus pandemic, as well as renewed commitments to racial justice. Furthermore, trainers will model best practices for remote learning and working conditions.
Target Audience: Mainstream educators with some to no experience with trauma-informed practices, as well as seasoned practitioners looking for a refresher on the specific science of healing after crisis events. This is not a train-the-trainer. This is not designed to deepen the skillsets of specialized instructional support providers whose work includes clinical support and/or secondary and tertiary prevention.
20 Credit Hours: 15 hours in live sessions + 5 hours independent work. All sessions are scheduled for 6:00 – 7:30 EST; at the conclusion of each session, participants will be expected to complete independent work via AFT eLearning.
At LFT’s 56th Annual Convention, held virtually on November 21, 2020, JFT presented a resolution for a moratorium on teacher and student evaluations and that there should be a guarantee that Student Learning Targets shall be standards agreed upon by the evaluator and the educator. The resolution was adopted and will become a part of LFT’s legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
JFT will keep you updated on LFT’s full legislative agenda. You can also click here to sign up for LFT’s Action Center to receive information.
Resolution brought forth by the Jefferson Federation of Teachers will become part of LFT’s legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
Election Day: Saturday, December 5th
For Louisiana, the election isn’t over yet. On Saturday, voters will decide on many key issues including local candidate races and ballot initiatives, as well as one state-wide Constitutional Amendment.
Constitutional Amendment #1 – Vote YES
Currently, Louisiana’s higher education system loses out because alumni from Louisiana schools who don’t currently live in the state, can’t serve on higher education panels like the LSU Board of Supervisors. This Amendment would allow no more than two of the at-large seats on LSU Board of Supervisors, the Southern University Board of Supervisors, the University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board of Supervisors to be held by alumni living outside of Louisiana. This Amendment passed unanimously in both the House and Senate during the latest Special Session and would be a helpful change for Louisiana’s entire higher education system!
For more information about your voting day location, and issues on your ballot, visit GEAUXVOTE.COM.
Instructional Minutes Waiver
Thank you to all of you who have written letters to BESE and Superintendent Brumley. I know that he has responded by quoting the “law” which governs when these waivers are allowed. However, the superintendent and BESE can still provide recommendations to the Governor, who, in fact, waived instructional minutes at the start of the pandemic. It appears as if many want to take the easy way out, and state that it’s up to individual districts to plan their calendars, but these calendars are still based on the instructional minutes as set forth by the state.
We will continue to work with our state affiliate, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, on this issue and many others. Continue to make your voices heard! If you haven't already sent a letter to BESE, you can do so here.
COVID Survey Update
Please complete this brief survey to give us a sense of the biggest outstanding issues you are still dealing with in your schools and classrooms. https://forms.gle/Fh395nL7wwU7BxBw7