General Employee Questions
How does the virus spread?
COVID-19 is spread when healthy people are exposed to droplets from a cough or sneeze from an infected person. Chances of infection increase when a person is closer than about 6 feet for longer than 10 minutes. The virus can also live on surfaces and can be transmitted when people touch surfaces then touch their face or food.
Is it safe to return to work?
We are taking every precaution to ensure our district is safe. We are following federal health and safety guidelines as well as guidance from our state and local health departments. We are implementing practices such as on-line screening surveys, wearing of face coverings, and social distancing practices to keep our schools and workplaces healthy.
Do I have to answer medical questions when reporting to work?
All employees and visitors will be required to answer questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms. This may be through the Return to Work Screening Survey to be completed every Monday before entering our buildings or they may be asked a series of questions before entering our buildings. Individuals who refuse to answer health screening questions may not be permitted entry into the building. Employees will be marked with an unexcused absence in these circumstances and may be subject to disciplinary action. Please see your employee handbook/policies regarding use of paid and unpaid leave for unexcused absences.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Employees who feel ill should notify their manager or building administrator per the district policy and not report to work. If you are already at work and begin feeling sick, you should notify your manager or building administrator and go home immediately. Employees can utilize accrued leave or lost time that may be available. Contact Personnel Services for more information on available leave.
How do I know if I have COVID-19 symptoms?
Please visit the following websites to determine if you have possible symptoms of COVID-19.
CDC Symptom and Testing Websites – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
CDC Symptom Checker Chat Bot (the link to actually check your symptoms) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html#
What if I am sick but it’s not COVID related?
If you are sick but it is not COVID-19 related, you will use your general or supplemental leave in accordance with district attendance policies. This process will not change from our previous standard process in accordance with policy.
Do I have to wear a mask at work?
Currently, the school district in cooperation with Fort Riley and Geary County Health Department along with the state of Kansas, require face coverings when in all district buildings. Employees in positions with frequent person-to-person contact are required to wear masks, when social distancing is unavailable. If masks are mandated and you have a medical condition that restricts you from wearing one, please speak with your manager or building administrator and Personnel Services.
Will we continue to have in-person meetings?
In order to promote social distancing in the buildings, some meetings will need to be restructured. You may be asked to attend an in-person meeting with limited attendees in a space that is large enough to allow for distancing between participants. In addition, some meetings will include a virtual option for employees to participate from their personal workspace. The meeting organizer and your manager or building administrator can provide you with guidance specific to your role.
What if there is a positive test in a building?
If there is a positive test within a school building, the District will comply with all local health department orders. This could range from a complete quarantine or partial quarantine, or no quarantine, based on the level of threat and infection/exposure. Additional cleaning and sanitation procedures will also be followed to ensure that the building has been treated. All procedures implemented will be based on health department recommendations and in accordance with policy.
How will positive cases of COVID-19 be handled in the workplace?
Despite all precautionary measures, there is always a risk of workplace exposure to communicable diseases. Should an employee contract COVID-19 and expose others in our workplace, we will immediately inform all employees of the possible exposure. Employees who have been potentially exposed will be sent home and asked to telework (if applicable) for 14 days. A thorough cleaning of the workspace and building used by the infected individual will be conducted after the area has been closed off for at least 24 hours.
Do I have to isolate if I travel outside of Kansas?
Currently, there is a limited number of states and situations that are on KDHE required 14-day isolation listing – https://ks-kdhecovid19.civicplus.com/176/Travel-Related-Quarantine. Individuals who work on Fort Riley will be restricted access to post if they have traveled more than 150 miles outside of post.
What if I don’t feel comfortable coming into work?
The district recognizes that every employee is feeling something different right now and there is a lot of information circulating regarding COVID-19. What we know for certain is that our local health officials are guiding us through the process based on science and data. They are implementing guidelines to ensure that our staff and students are safe. Although you may have fears about returning, we will be directing employees to return to their positions based on those guidelines. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from returning, you will need to contact Personnel Services.
Can an employee refuse to go to work if they feel at risk for contracting COVID-19?
There is no law that provides job protection for an otherwise healthy employee who refuses to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
Can my supervisor or Personnel Services ask me about my symptoms if they are related to COVID?
Yes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has weighed in on COVID related conversations in the workplace. Normally an employer may not ask you specific questions related to symptoms without medical documentation. However, as COVID is a medical condition that affects others and has been deemed a public health concern, employers may ask employees if they are experiencing COVID-related symptoms, even prior to the employee working at the facility/location.
What is the district doing to protect employees and limit interaction with multiple people?
We will continue to follow the Geary County Health Department guidelines regarding sanitation, social distancing, personal protection equipment (PPE), changing structures and systems to comply with guidelines, and best practices for the number of individuals within buildings or spaces.
The district will be providing required PPE to designated staff. The district also has prepared various scenarios to comply with health department social distancing guidelines in various phases. This includes implementing different structures within the buildings as well as implementing the possibility of different learning models for instruction.
All of this is being done to keep our students safe, but also to keep our staff safe. We recognize that our staff also have concerns regarding the sanitation, social distancing and PPE provided. We want to ensure we are doing everything possible to not only comply with recommendations, but to ensure that our staff have peace of mind while educating our students. Your job is important, and we want you to feel safe and secure while doing it.
Additionally, large group activities, and the congregating of students and employees will be reduced/eliminated.
What if there is a positive test within a building by either a student or an employee?
The district will follow CDC and health department guidance on school or district closure as it relates to COVID-19 positive tests. We will follow recommendations on re-opening, cleaning, and disinfecting surfaces and buildings.
What if I or my child have a compromised immune system?
If you are eligible for either FMLA or expanded FMLA provided under the FFCRA, you may have the opportunity to receive paid or unpaid leave. Please contact Personnel Services – Benefits and work through all scenarios.
What if I have someone else in my household, other than my child, has a compromised immune system?
This would likely not qualify under the FFCRA, but you may have the opportunity to take leave. Please contact Personnel Services – Benefits and work through all scenarios.
Managers and supervisors have been directed to implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flexible schedules, where operationally feasible. Talk with your supervisor about options that may be available to you. In circumstances where flexible work arrangements are not an option, employees may be able to utilize expanded Family and Medical Leave known as Families First Response Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) if they need to care for dependents due to school or daycare closures. Please contact Personnel Services to request more information. Staff may also utilize appropriate leave banks, if necessary.
Can I bring my child(ren) to work with me, since schools/daycares are closed?
No, you are not allowed to bring your children to work with you for safety and health concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 and the district’s focus on social distancing.
What protections does an employee have if they are retaliated against for using sick leave due to COVID-19?
If an employee requests an extended period away from work to treat the employee’s own case of COVID-19, or to care for a family member who contracted the virus, the employee may be protected from retaliation under the FMLA. There are other anti-retaliation protections under the FFCRA for employees taking sick leave or extended FMLA leave for a broad range of situations associated with COVID-19, including self-quarantine.
What can FFCRA be used for?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
How do I report my leave?
If you are out for COVID or non-COVID related reasons, you will need to let your supervisor know. You will report and have your leave recorded normally, if non-COVID related. If it is COVID related, you will also need to be in contact with Personnel Services, so that we can direct you to the type of leave that is required/allowed for the absence.
Do I need to contact Personnel Services regarding my COVID-related leave?
Yes, we will direct you to the type of leave that is required/allowed under federal law and/or policy. You may not have to use your own personal paid or sick leave if it is COVID related. However, there will be a process to determine this and you will want to work with Personnel Services through that process.
Can my supervisor or Personnel Services send me home? If so, do I have to use my leave?
The district may send you home if it is believed you have symptoms related to COVID. There will be expectations for employees to pursue treatment or medical consultation. You will be required to use your own leave for any time missed until you are symptom free. If you continue to be gone for COVID related reasons and are seeking treatment through a medical provider including testing, then you may be eligible for the emergency sick leave through FFCRA. Please consult Personnel Services.
No. Under existing guidance from the Department of Labor, leave taken by an employee for the purpose of avoiding exposure would not be protected under the FMLA. However, if you are immunocompromised or otherwise have an existing medical condition that may place you within a vulnerable population susceptible to serious illness then you may request such leave as a request for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employees who would like to make such a request should contact Personnel Services – Benefits to determine if such an accommodation is eligible.
Who is eligible for the expanded FMLA program – FFCRA?
All employees who have been employed with the Geary County USD 475 for at least 30 calendar days are eligible for the expanded FMLA program. The leave can be taken if the employee is unable to work (or work remotely) due to a need to care for their child(ren) when their school or place of care has been closed, or the regular childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19. More information about the new FMLA benefit, please contact Personnel Services – Benefits.
Can the expanded family and medical leave be used on an intermittent basis?
Yes. Employees may take intermittent leave (i.e., leave on non-consecutive dates) with the advanced approval of their supervisor and Personnel Services. A proposed schedule shall be submitted to Personnel Services – Benefits along with the FMLA application.
If my employer reduces my scheduled work hours, can I use expanded family and medical leave for the hours that I am no longer scheduled to work?
No. If your building administrator or manager reduces your work hours because it does not have work for you to perform, you may not use expanded family and medical leave for the hours that you are no longer scheduled to work. This is because you are not prevented from working those hours due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason, even if your reduction in hours was somehow related to COVID-19.
What does it mean to be unable to work, including telework for COVID-19 related reasons?
You are unable to work if your building administrator or manager has work for you and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the FFCRA prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by means of telework.
If you and your building administrator or manager agree that you will work your normal number of hours, but outside of your normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work, and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working that schedule.
If I have already used all or part of my 12 weeks of FMLA, does the expanded FMLA program provide me with an additional 12 weeks?
No. Employees have up to 12 weeks of leave to use between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020 under the FMLA expansion – FFCRA. This time is included in, not in addition to, the total FMLA leave entitlement of 12 weeks in a 12-month period.
For example, if an employee has already taken 6 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period, that employee would only be eligible for another 6 weeks of FMLA leave under this expansion provision. More information about the expanded FMLA program can be found on: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave; https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
If I am caring for my child who has COVID, do I get the 2/3 emergency paid sick leave for two weeks and then up to 10 weeks of 2/3 paid leave for the expanded FMLA?
You could. For situations that are specific to COVID, please contact Personnel Services – Benefits for direct guidance.
If I am caring for my child, can I use the leave every other day or every other week?
Leave provided under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) can only be used intermittently upon agreement between the employee and the employer.
If I am using 12 total weeks to care for my child, why do I only get 10 weeks at 2/3 pay? Does this mean the first two weeks are unpaid?
Correct. The first two weeks are unpaid, as outlined in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. However, you may be entitled to emergency paid sick leave during these first two weeks, or you may be required to use existing district-provided general leave during that time.
USD 475 contracts with Pawnee Mental Health to provide a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all employees and their dependents. The services are provided at no cost to eligible members. Visit their webpage https://www.pawnee.org/covid-19 for more information about COVID-19 and EAP services.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has included TeleHealth at no cost to most of the health options under the district group health insurance plan. Visit the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas https://www.bcbsks.com/telehealth/ for more information.
Will Short Term Disability insurance benefits be paid for absences related to COVID-19?
Employees currently enrolled in the Short-Term Disability (STD) insurance program may be eligible for STD benefits depending on the specific facts of the claim and subject to the provisions of the Group Policy. An employee who is placed in quarantine but does not have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, will not be eligible for STD Benefits.
Do I have to pay the health insurance premiums that I missed while I was not working?
Employees are responsible for paying their portion of health insurance premiums that were missed while on unpaid leave or furlough. Employees have several options for paying these premiums including a lump-sum payroll deduction or a series of deductions spread over time. You will be contacted by Personnel Services to make arrangements for these payments.