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CT teachers' union contends members are forced to choose between their jobs and their health

Teachers were entitled to paid quarantine leave under the federal emergency paid sick leave act if they had to quarantine and were not allowed to teach remotely.

HARTFORD, Conn — While teachers are part of the next group to be vaccinated across Connecticut, unions across the state want the Governor to mandate protecting them even more.

The Board of Education Union Coalition sent a letter to Governor Ned Lamont requesting a uniform, statewide policy regarding how public-school systems should handle quarantines and leaves "when a teacher needs to quarantine, needs to be home because they’ve been exposed to the Covid virus and needs to protect themselves, other staff and students," said Donald Williams, Executive Director of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).

He contends some Connecticut school systems are not acknowledging that the spread can take place in the schools.

"And, in some cases, when teachers need to quarantine, because they have been exposed, the school is not ordering them to do so," said Williams.

Teachers were entitled to paid quarantine leave under the federal emergency paid sick leave act if they had to quarantine and were not allowed to teach remotely.

"That expired on December 31," Williams said. "So, we need to fix that in the State of Connecticut to protect the safety of students, teachers and staff."

The Coalition says many districts are following legal advice to deny educators and staff the opportunity to work remotely informing those, who must quarantine, that they are not eligible for paid leave.

"Teachers, for the sake of continuity, should continue to teach their own class," Williams added. "Many districts do that. All districts should be doing that."

Williams argues that, right now, many educators and staff are being forced to choose between their jobs and their health.

"We believe that the Governor will respond appropriately to this because he has recognized this issue in the past," he said. "So has our Commissioner, Miguel Cardona."

Coalition leaders contend too many school districts are not following procedures established by health experts for responding to COVID-19 exposures and are disregarding SDE Commissioner Miguel Cardona’s recommendation to accommodate educators’ requests to work remotely due to health conditions, quarantine, or the need to care for a child at home. 

The Board of Education Union Coalition represents over 60,000 public school employees (teachers and non-certified education personnel) across the state.