COVID-19 Information on Benefits and Leave
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning NISD Staff

Below are answers to many of the questions that have been submitted about the upcoming school year. We will continue to update this page with information as it becomes available. 

If you have a question that has not been answered, please email covidquestions@nisdtx.org.

Return to Learn

If we do online teaching and they have to hire someone to teach the in-person lessons, will we still have our position at our campus next year when/if we go back to all in person learning?

 All personnel are employed subject to assignment and/or reassignment by the Superintendent or designee. Assignments shall be based upon the needs of the District. The principal’s criteria for approval of campus assignments and reassignments shall be consistent with District policy regarding equal opportunity employment and with staffing patterns approved in the District and campus plans. If a forced reassignment/transfer is required due to low student enrollment, the procedures of determining seniority as outlined in DK (Regulation) would be followed. While assignments cannot be guaranteed from year to year, a teacher who is selected to temporarily instruct students in a remote setting would not lose their seniority for reassignment/transfer purposes in the grade level if he/she is still assigned to that campus/grade level. If the remote teaching assignment is a district level position, serving students on multiple campuses, the teacher’s seniority in the district would not be impacted. Northwest ISD’s policies regarding assignment and schedules can be found in Board policy DK (Local) and DK (Regulation).

If one of our students/staff get Covid is that whole class gone for 14 days? How does that work?

No, not necessarily. The district would determine whether the student/staff member had “close contact” as defined by Texas Education.
“Close contact” with an individual who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 is determined by an appropriate public health agency. For clarity, close contact is defined as:

  1. being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a mask or face shield); or
  2. being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a mask or face shield;

    if either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious.

    Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test.

    Testing for COVID-19 is free for most health plans, individuals without health insurance can also be tested at free testing sites located throughout the DFW area.

If a student or staff member has a family member that has it or has been exposed to Covid do they stay home for 14 days?

Most likely the student or staff member be quarantined for 14 days. However; they would need to follow the instructions of a medical provider or the appropriate public health agency.

If a staff member does get Covid what do we do?

  • The staff member would complete the district reporting tool to notify the COVID-19 Response Team
  • The staff member would notify their campus administrator to receive instructions regarding student instruction and the next steps.
  • Any individuals who themselves either:
    (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or
    (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
    o In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:
  1. at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); and
  2. the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of
    breath); and
  3. at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid leave at the employee's regular pay rate of pay. This paid leave is due to the employee who has been diagnosed, directed to quarantine or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  • There is a limit to only 10 days of additional leave provided by FFCRA.
  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to expire on December 31, 2020.
  • Please contact Kitty Poehler (kpoehler@nisdtx.org) Executive Director of Benefits and Risk Management to complete the necessary documentation and absence coding.

Will staff be tested prior to face to face instruction; beyond temperature checks.

No, there is not a plan for staff to be tested that are not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID or that have not knowingly been exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID.

If, and when, a staff member becomes positive from COVID19 what will the procedures be to safeguard students and staff that have been in contact with the individual?

The area that the student/staff member has visited would be thoroughly cleaned with the enhanced cleaning crew as listed in our procedures and students/ staff would not be allowed in those locations until they are deemed safe to return. Notification will be sent to all students/staff/parents of the campus that a staff member has tested positive for COVID. A student/staff member will not be listed in the notification but the grade level impacted will be in the notification.

The staff member would complete the district reporting tool to notify the COVID-19 Response Team. The staff member should contact their campus administrator to receive instructions regarding student instruction and the next steps.

Contract tracing would be conducted to determine if any students/staff were determined to be in close contact with the diagnosed person and what precautions, if any, would need to be taken including a required quarantine period.

If a family member of a teacher becomes positive, what responsibilities will the teacher have once they are in quarantine? For example, a spouse is a 1st responder and becomes positive. Will the teacher have to prepare sub plans, what if the teacher is a special needs contained classroom or PreK? These classrooms are typically a one teacher/nonteam unit and may not have the support of a grade level team on campus to create lesson plans or continue responsibilities of classroom.

It is not a district expectation that a teacher have two weeks worth of lesson planning prepared for a GE. Please contact your building principal for specific campus expectations. It is always a great idea to have a “go to” plan for a day or two ready for a GE in case the unexpected happens. Our administrators, office staff and team leaders do an exceptional job of pulling together lesson plans and support for our GE’s when an unexpected absence does occur.

How will teacher leave be handled if a teacher has to self-quarantine?

  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid leave at the employee's regular pay rate of pay. This paid leave is due to the employee who has been diagnosed, directed to quarantine or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  • There is a limit to only 10 days of additional leave provided by FFCRA.
  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to expire on December 31, 2020.
  • Please contact Kitty Poehler (kpoehler@nisdtx.org) Executive Director of Benefits and Risk Management to complete the necessary documentation and absence coding.

What if I cannot return to work after ten working days due to illness, quarantine, or waiting for laboratory results for COVID-19?

  • If you cannot return to work, you can apply for Family Medical Leave (FMLA) if eligible or Temporary Disability Leave.
  • Local sick leave, state sick leave, and personal leave will be applied to these absences. Once all paid leave is exhausted, you would be eligible for ten days of extended leave. Extended leave is paid at fifty percent of your daily rate provided you have been employed with the district for at least ninety calendar days.
  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to expire on December 31, 2020.
  • Please contact Kitty Poehler (kpoehler@nisdtx.org), Executive Director of Benefits, and Risk Management to complete the necessary documentation.

What considerations are being made for students whose mother is a teacher at the campus if an alternated daily schedule is made? Will that child be able to return to parent's classroom?

Currently, our staff are required to return to work prior to the school year to participate in professional development and district/campus related activities and must find childcare for their own children. If there is an extension of a soft opening/start to the school year where all grade levels do not start on the same date, we are working with Alphabest to determine if they would be able to provide daycare services during the school day to our employees with elementary-aged children at a reduced cost.

How will asymptomatic students and teachers be handled?

Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19 1.
Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:

  1. at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
  2. the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
  3. at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared. o In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.

If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.

If the day is extended, how will that affect teacher contracts?

Teachers are considered exempt employees and paid on a salary basis and not an hourly rate. Assignments and contracts are based on the school year and not based on number of hours worked per day. In our teacher contracts it states:
You will be employed for the 2020-2021 school year(s), according to the hours and dates set by the District as they exist or may hereafter be
amended.
2.2 Work Schedule: Scheduled days and hours of employment, as established relative to the specific job description, may be amended at any time during the term of this Contract.

If a teacher must quarantine are they able to work remotely and not be docked their days.

If a teacher is required to quarantine and instructs in an in-person setting, the teacher would not be able to fulfill her job duties. Students would still be attending class on site and would need supervision in the classroom. If a teacher and the class(es) he/she instructs are all required to quarantine, the class could transition to remote learning and the teacher would be able to perform his/her duties remotely. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis and will be dependent upon the situation and the employee’s specific job duties.

It is the district’s expectation that all employees work from an NISD Facility.

With the shortage of substitutes, what will happen if there is not a sub available for a teacher? (Especially in the case when a teacher must quarantine.)

We have more guest educators in our substitute pool than we have had absences on any given day, but we may still experience days when an absence is not filled. We are working to actively recruit more guest educators for the 20-21 school year and are currently accepting applications.

Human Resources works continuously throughout the year to actively recruit and maintain exceptional guest educators through a variety of resources. We do also encourage our campus staff to be aware of unique recruiting opportunities through direct contact with parents, grandparents, circle of influence, etc. We have found that GE’s that are recruited by campus staff will often be very loyal to that campus and work on a regular basis. We are aware that there will most likely be an increase in absences this year and are working to increase our pool of guest educators to fill these needs. We will also work with our GE’s to ensure that they are aware of immediate needs that arise. Our primary goal is always to do what is best for kids and to support our campus staff in the best possible way. We are so proud of the ways our campus staff pulls together to support this goal as well.

  1. Recruiting plan: Increased the daily rate of our GE’s for 20-21 and have 500 GE’s planning to return to work for 20-21. . Our goal is to have 750 GE’s in our sub pool and our average number of absences that need a sub was 100 for the 20-21 school year. There are some days of the week that experience higher absentee rates, including Monday’s and Friday’s. Providing our GE’s with a positive environment and equipping them with the training and tools to be successful so they are comfortable and want to accept assignments and return to specific campuses.
  2. We have surveyed our GE’s and some do have the same concerns over their safety for in-person learning that our teachers have expressed so we are sharing district information on how the district plans to mitigate COVID-related concerns. We have a posting up now and are actively recruiting to increase our sub pool.
  3. We will be working with our campus principals to develop a plan on how to cover a class if a sub position is not filled. Our plan is to try to avoid splitting a class and adding more students to a classroom if at all possible by selecting staff members on the campus that could be reassigned to cover a class for the day or portion of the day.
  4. Training for our campus points of contact prior to the start of the school year with tips on how to utilize Aesop and tips from other campuses on increasing fill rates. The more comfortable and safe our subs feel the more they will want to work.
  5. We will select a group of GE’s to participate in remote instruction training. We already have a group that provided remote instruction when we had to close in the spring that were successful so trying to continue with those and grow additional in the instance they are needed for a remote instruction position.
  6. Limiting the absences we can control (school related-PD-personal leave). Discussing now possibility of submitting a form to be approved for school related and PD, as well as personal leave. We anticipate fewer absences for school related and will try our best to decrease these as much as possible. We can’t control illness or illness related absences of employees or their family members.

What is being done for teachers that are at “higher risk” due to age, diabetes, or other underlying conditions?

Employees with underlying conditions, can request an accommodation from the district. Working from home would not be an accommodation for a condition that is deemed high risk for exposure to COVD-19.

 


NISD Benefits

What happens if I am directed by my health care provider to be tested for the COVID-19 virus?

Current medical plan participants and covered dependents will not be responsible for the testing cost for the COVID-19. The district has taken the necessary steps to waive any co-pays or deductibles for the testing.

What happens if my family member who is on the district’s health plan must self-isolate due to travel or is diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and needs prescription refills?

At this time, the district has taken the steps to allow participants to refill prescriptions 30 days in advance.

What should I do if I need to add or drop medical coverage during the district closure?

Please contact e-mail Kitty Poehler (kpoehler@nisdtx.org) to discuss the benefit change you need to make. You may also call Ms. Poehler at 817-215-0071 and leave a message should you have any questions or need additional information. Ms. Poehler’s voice mails will be routed to her district e-mail. Please be sure to provide a return call back number in your message.

Will the NISD Employee Health and Wellness Center be open during the district closure?

The Health and Wellness Center will be open during the closure. Please be aware that the Health and Wellness Center Staff will be following a specific protocol when you arrive at the clinic as precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

We would ask that only the patient report to the Health Wellness Center. If you need to bring a child who is ill, please refrain from bringing any additional family members to the appointment.

What if I am a district medical plan participant and do not want to report to the Health and Wellness Center? Is there another way to receive medical treatment?

WellVia, the district’s telemedicine provider is available 24 hours a day to assist covered medical plan participants. WellVia is equipped to assist participants who believe they have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. You can reach WellVia at 855-WELLVIA.