Ask & Answer | What’s the deal with emergency leave for teachers and other school personnel?

A teacher asked me what happens for beginning teachers who haven’t accrued enough sick or annual leave if they can’t work because they no longer have child care for their own children. Other teachers are concerned about what happens if they get sick or their family members get sick.

On Friday, March 27, the State Board of Education met. The Board approved an “emergency paid-leave policy for public school employees for the month of April that addresses COVID-19 and related issues.” The change to the benefits and policy manual also addresses what happens in the month of March.

This policy applies to all school districts, the innovative school district (ISD), and regional schools. It applies to charter schools “under the direction of their Boards of Directors.” It does not apply to virtual charter schools.

After the meeting on Friday, at about 5:35 p.m., the board issued a press release, which said:

“The State of Emergency Leave policy approved by the board will allow districts to continue to pay and provide benefits to eligible staff who cannot work remotely, who have child-care or elder-care needs, are at high risk of COVID-19 and others.

Up to 168 hours of paid State of Emergency Leave may be granted by districts or schools for the period between April 1 and April 30.”

Here is the language that was approved by the board for section 9.4.2 of the benefits and policy manual so you can read the fine print:

Note that regarding March 2020, it says, “Up to ninety-six (96) hours of State of Emergency Leave are available for all employees who requested leave during the school closure period of March 16-March 31, 2020, for those reasons set forth in Section B. This leave shall be pro-rated for part-time personnel and may be retroactively applied to employees who took leave during this closure period (paid or unpaid leave).”

This policy may be extended by the State Board of Education. At the meeting, Eric Snyder, general counsel to the board, said, “Circumstances may very well change in the coming weeks, and we may need to modify the policies.”

Please let us know what you think of the policy in the survey below.

And please keep sending me your questions at mrash@ednc.org.

For more on the meeting, check the article below from EdNC’s Alex Granados.

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

Ask & Answer Coronavirus The Editor's Notes