This past school year, many employees were granted telework as an accommodation for medical conditions that the CDC identified as placing them at risk of serious illness if exposed to the coronavirus. Based upon current conditions, such an accommodation will end when educators return to in-person instruction this fall.
In May, both the CDC and OSHA issued guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, except where required by federal, state, or local rules or regulations, including local businesses and workplaces. This guidance does not apply to public transportation, healthcare settings, childcare, or in public schools—at least for now.
As you know, our schools are currently returning to in-person instruction and all school systems have announced a traditional school reopening this fall. Thus, we expect pandemic-related telework accommodations to end. Schools, however, must continue to provide previously recognized accommodations for physical or mental conditions.
Before the pandemic, telework was not considered a reasonable accommodation for public school-based employees who are required to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students, which includes supervising, instructing, engaging, and providing physical assistance to students. School systems will work—and MSEA will support—ways to accommodate individuals on the job. This may include continued mask-wearing, increased sanitation, or such things as personal air purifiers for the workspace for employees who provide the necessary documentation.
As employees are re-entering the traditional workspace, MSEA will continue to work with educators to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees and their students.
Questions? Contact your local UniServ director for information and assistance.