When and how will staff be notified about when they will return to work?
- Staff members serving grades K-5 at traditional schools, and within those grade bands at charter/contract schools starting on Feb. 16, will be notified in writing by the Human Capital Office on Friday, January 15, 2021. Notifications for staff members serving grades 9 and 12 at traditional and other schools that start on March 1, will be sent out the following week.
- Also, staff members may participate in a Staff Town Hall on January 20 to receive additional information.
How did you decide what employees are required to return?
In order to support in-person programming, employees with duties that support K-5 students, 9th-grade students, and 12th-grade students were selected to return. In addition, any other staff members at schools that support students in the in-person environment will be required to return.
What if a returning teacher has a pre-existing health condition that puts them at higher risk for COVID-19?
We understand that some staff members may be less prepared or able to return on-site. Some may be eligible for leave or accommodations due to their personal, family, or health circumstances. We will take staff members' situations into consideration as much as possible. Staff members who believe they are eligible for leave or who would like to request a reasonable accommodation should do so. All requests will be evaluated on an individual basis. Click here for leave information or here for accommodation requests.
Will there be a reminder regarding what employees are required to return to work and their responsibilities?
Yes. Employees that are required to return to work will be notified directly by the Human Capital office.
If my school opens, do I have to teach virtually and in person?
It is likely that some educators will have to provide support both virtually (synchronously and asynchronously) and in-person. Schedules and formats need to be flexible based on staffing, size of the school, and cohort requirements. This is to ensure students receive core offerings and instructional expectations are being met. Based on feedback, we will provide a sample schedule, and principals will work with their teams to best support this effort.
Teacher: If my school reopens, may I opt out?
- Staff members who are required to begin reporting in person in February or March 2021 will receive personal, electronic notification from the Human Capital Office, mostly between Friday, January 15 and Friday, January 22. These notifications are sent to staff members based on their job title, school assignment/s, and within-school grade or course assignment/s.
- After student and family opt-in choices are made in the next few weeks, it is possible that some staff members who were notified of the duty to report in person may no longer be required to report in person in February or March. In any such case, the Human Capital Office will provide a revised notification so that work expectations are clear. It is possible that in some cases, volunteers will be able to be prioritized for in-person returns. However, the duty to report in person is not dependent on a staff member's interest in volunteering to return in person.
What happens if a teacher has symptoms or enters quarantine? Does the entire classroom shutdown?
If a student or staff member who has been on-site for in-person learning has COVID-like symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the entire pod will enter quarantine if any individual has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. While few members of a pod will actually be close contacts given social distancing protocols, City Schools takes this additional precaution anytime a member of the pod has symptoms or tests positive.
Will guidance or preparation be provided to teachers about in-person instruction? Will safety guidance be provided?
- Students in grades K-2 will have half-days from February 8-12. This will allow teachers in grades K-2 to teach virtually that week and spend the remainder of the day coordinating with colleagues and preparing for in-person learning that starts for those grades on February 16. Staff at charter and contract schools that are opening on Feb 16 will have similar time to set up but the schedules may look different, your school leader will provide you with this information.
- Students in grades 3-5, 9, and 12 will have half-days from February 22-26. This will allow teachers in grades 3-5, 9, and 12 to teach virtually that week and spend the remainder of the day coordinating with colleagues and preparing for in-person learning that starts for those grades on March 1. Staff at charter and contract schools that are opening on March 1 will have similar time to set up but the schedules may look different, your school leader will provide you with this information.
- All teachers will receive training on City Schools' health and safety standard operating procedures during system PD on January 28. Additionally, principals will have access to a suite of asynchronous PD sessions that they can offer to their staff based on team members' roles and responsibilities within the school. Sessions address topics such as performing health screenings, COVID-19 cleaning protocols, and classroom and school-wide management for health and safety.
Will staff be notified if there's a COVID-19 case at their school but not in their classroom?
Yes. Staff members at a school will be notified of COVID-19 cases in writing. This general advisory notice is provided to all staff members, even though any quarantine requirements will only apply to close contacts and members of the same pod.
Can resource teachers/specials teachers/therapists teach remotely from home or a classroom?
Educators supporting multiple cohorts will likely need to provide a blend of in-person and virtual instruction to ensure there is limited close contact and no more than two classroom cohorts are not linked. This will include virtual instruction from both their classroom and remotely as needed depending on their schedules and classroom space usage.
Is City Schools declining to extend COVID-19 sick leave past January? Does this mean staff will have to use sick leave?
City Schools offers one of the most extensive benefits packages available anywhere in the country, including paid time off. From April to December 2020, City Schools implemented certain, additional leave provisions included in federal legislation covering that time period. On its own initiative, City Schools extended these leave provisions for one month in January 2021. Continuing in February and beyond, City Schools will grant additional, paid leave to employees who are instructed to quarantine for a reason other than their own sickness and to employees who have COVID-like symptoms when there has been a COVID case at their work site. In other cases where employees are sick, they should use the sick leave time allocated for this purpose. No employee should ever report to work sick. Staff members who choose to participate in the sick bank may also make a request to the sick bank if needed.
Will teachers have observations and SLOs while returning to in-person learning?
All teachers in Maryland must be evaluated every year. Each year, City Schools mutually agrees with the teachers union on the components of the teacher evaluation, which this year includes observations, student learning objectives, and professional expectations ratings. This year, observations may include either or both virtual and in-person instruction, and this will continue through the spring semester. One exception to this is the new opportunity City Schools chose to provide this year to nearly 2,000 of our veteran, effective teachers to opt out of observations and carry forward those ratings from last year.