By: POE’s Legal Department
As this semester comes to a close, there are a few COVID-19 updates the legal team at POE wants to make everyone aware of as we head into the new year. First, there are new quarantine guidelines from the CDC and Oklahoma Department of Health. Second, the federally paid two weeks of COVID leave will expire at the end of 2020. Finally, there may be a new optional in-person quarantine that school districts could implement now or in the coming spring semester.
Based on new evidence about COVID-19, the CDC has updated its quarantine recommendations for local public health authorities. Although the CDC still recommends a 14-day quarantine after exposure to COVID-19, other alternatives for a shorter quarantine are now accepted. The CDC now states:
- Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
- Quarantine can end after day 7 if the individual tests negative and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. The negative test must take place on day 5-7.
Daily monitoring and masking must be continued through day 14.
Next, the two weeks of federally paid COVID leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to expire December 31, 2020. Currently, if you are unable to work because you have been subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order, the advice of a health care provider, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, you are entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of federally paid leave to be used before any sick leave. At this point, it is unclear whether there will be new legislation to extend this leave into 2021.
Lastly, the Oklahoma Department of Health recently announced an optional in-person quarantine policy for students who have been exposed to COVID-19. This would allow students to remain in a physical classroom during their 14-day quarantine after being exposed to the virus instead of being sent home. This policy does not include any student who has tested positive for COVID-19. This optional policy is permitted temporarily from Nov. 30, 2020 until Dec. 23, 2020. Any school choosing to adopt an in-school quarantine policy must comply with certain guidelines included here, such as providing an isolated room for the students and frequent mandatory COVID testing. There is no guidance currently on who will be supervising these students. The decision on necessary supervision of the students will be made on a local district level but the district still must comply with health guidelines set forth by the county health department.
Now, this in-person quarantining has not been widely adopted by school districts yet and the application time is very brief. So, your school district likely has not opted into this new policy. For the schools that are implementing in-person quarantines, the monitored infection rate will be evaluated at the end of the semester. If the Oklahoma Department of Health finds the policy to be successful, it could be included in policy guidelines for the spring semester and more schools could more widely adopt this policy.
As more information on pertinent teacher related COVID issues arise, the POE legal team will be sending out more updates as well as including local news reports in the weekly newsletter.