Human Resources Report
To: Michael Green
From: Vicky Barnes
Date: September 16, 2020
Subject: Human Resources Report
The majority of my daily time is spent split between working with employees on COVID related concerns and the recent changes in Title IX.
Employee concerns with COVID-19 center on safety. In the summer I communicated with staff through a survey asking if they had any health conditions listed by the CDC and wanted to talk about reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. In April Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation giving high-risk workers the right to protect themselves from COVID-19 without jeopardizing their employment status or loss of income.
The proclamation provides older workers and those with underlying health conditions a series of rights and protections, including:
- The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures.
- The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work. Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high-risk employees are off the job.
- Employers are prohibited from permanently replacing high-risk employees.
High-risk individuals are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and specifically include:
- 65 years of age or older; and
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.
The proclamation has been extended and will remain in effect through the duration of the state of emergency, or until otherwise rescinded or amended.
When an employee indicates they want to ask for a reasonable accommodation it begins an interactive conversation with myself, the employee, and their administrator to discuss what accommodations the employee is requesting and deciding if it is reasonable. Employees are very grateful that we are working with them for what is best for kids and what is best for them.
Since employees have been back in the buildings I have also been responding to employees who either have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19. Each morning employees are sent an email with a link to a COVID-19 questionnaire. At the building level administrators or their designee check to make sure all employees in the building have completed the attestation. If an employee answers yes to any of the questions they are to remain at home. Both Scott Landrigan and I are notified when an employee answers yes so we can follow up. I call the employee to get the details and to let the employee know what options are available to them. For most employees who have mild symptoms and are waiting to be tested, they are able to work from home. If an employee must miss work due to specified reasons related to COVID-19 they are eligible for paid leave entitlements through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Scott contacts the Department of Health anytime there are questions about our response to employees.
The second focus of my time has been the recent changes in Title IX. On August 14, 2020, the Department of Education issued a new Title IX Rule. There are many moving parts to this rule and I am working to make sure our district is in compliance with them as well as ensuring we are in compliance with Washington State laws concerning sexual harassment. OSPI has been a great resource and they did a webinar in early August that I have linked here. This webinar goes over both the federal requirements and the state requirements and how they differ. They also issued OSPI Bulletin No. 058-20 because in Washington, following the new Title IX rules alone is not sufficient for compliance with state law. This will be a focus of mine in the coming months as I continue to be trained as the Title IX coordinator.