KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
EXPOSURE TO COVID-19
If you have been told that a student in your room has been quarantined, or perhaps a peer that you have been in close contact with has tested positive, or other employees at your school that you have had close contact with have tested positive or are quarantined, take immediate steps to protect yourself.
ADA Accommodations – Being told you must report to your school or worksite. Contact OCCTA to file a grievance.
1 Exposure Report (Sample letter to supervisor)
2 First Report of Injury
3 Notice of Injury
SAFE AND HEALTHY WORKING CONDITIONS
Contract language states that you do not have to work in unsafe conditions:
Article VII Teacher Rights and Responsibilities
Clearly, reporting to work in the midst of a pandemic constitutes an unsafe and hazardous condition and poses an eminent danger to employee health.
Furthermore, just as the school board is bound by statute and policy, Florida teachers are bound by the FLDOE Rule 6A-10.081, Florida Administrative Code, Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. It states:
“(2) Florida educators shall comply with the following disciplinary principles. Violation of any of these principles shall subject the individual to revocation or suspension of the individual educator’s certificate, or the other penalties as provided by law. (a) Obligation to the student requires that the individual:1. Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety.”
Requiring teachers to participate in face-to-face instruction during a pandemic against the expert medical advice and CDC guidelines while we are experiencing community spread, is directing them to violate the Principles of Professional Conduct under which they are bound. Our employer has no right to ask this of our bargaining unit members. OCCTA rejects any such request that appears to violate the state rule and our contract. Whatever actions you and OCCTA take will be in accordance with all applicable laws and contract provisions.
Below are some of the concerns we have heard from members since schools reopened:
Document All Violations
Take Photos Take photos of your classroom that show the feet between student desks and tables. Make a note of how many face-to-face students are in your classroom each period. Take photos of the cafeteria or lunch areas where you are assigned duty or must supervise. Take photos of the hallway passing. Take photos of other areas to show social distancing being followed or violated.
Keep Records and Keep a Time Line Keep a file that includes, documentation of your preference and what you were actually assigned (Face-to-Face, LaunchED at home, LaunchED at school, OCVS); any ADA accommodation requests, including any email correspondence and record of phone calls and dates of emails, calls, and responses;
Contact OCCTA Your union is here for you to answer questions and to file actions on your behalf to enforce your contractual rights. We are here for every member and that is why we filed a class action grievance and lawsuit to protect the safety of every student, educator, employee and community member. Please always include your full name, name of school or worksite and personnel number when emailing us.
We can force change, but we cannot do it without you. In many cases we can speak to administrators, but please know that the problems and violations we are experiencing in schools are being systematically and unilaterally implemented by OCPS and are District-wide. OCCTA cannot directly help members who will not file a grievance. We have heard that some of you fear retaliation. Please know that OCCTA will protect you and will aggressively fight back against any and all such threats.
Send a formal letter to your principal or supervisor You should immediately contact your administrators to let them know of the violations and request action be taken to follow the contract and provide you with safe and healthy working conditions. Below is a letter you can complete and submit to your principal or supervisor. (The letter in a Word file is at this link.) You can use this form letter, revise it, or create a personalized letter. Please keep a copy for your records. You may also send a copy to OCCTA at email@example.com
Remember that this letter is only intended to alert your supervisor of safety violations and notify them of your rights under the collective bargaining agreement. If you believe you have experienced an on the job injury, or require ADA accommodations, leave under the FMLA, or any other assistance, you must follow relevant procedures and laws. If you have any questions, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR PRINCIPAL OR IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR
Send this letter below immediately if: your room or office does not allow for 6 foot social distancing, your room or other common spaces are not kept clean; there are mask violations, (including being assigned a child that does not wear a mask because he/she has a waiver); you do not have adequate PPE or time to clean between each class period; you are assigned duty and there is no social distancing (cafeteria, arrive and departure areas, hallway passing); you have students eating in your classroom; you have inadequate ventilation (everyone because the District does not have the quality/recommended air filters); and/or any other violations. Keep a copy of the letter. You may also send a copy to your field representative at OCCTA. This letter can also serve as the initial step in documenting exposure.