FAQs from March 12, 2020
What happens to the district’s funding if a school temporarily closes to contain the spread of the virus? The district should not lose funding in this situation. The Education Code contains a hold harmless provision specifying that in the event a school is closed due to an epidemic or emergency order or declared State of Emergency. The Code further specifies that a district unable to operate a full school year due to an epidemic or an emergency order by a federal, state, city, or county official is to receive “the same apportionment from the State School Fund as it would have received” if it had operated for a full school year of 175 days (Educ. Code Sec. 41422).
Will schools that are closed have to make up the days at the end of the year?
The Education Code excuses districts from complying with the full school year requirements in the
event of an epidemic or order by a federal, state, city, or county official in response to an emergency
(Educ. Code Sec. 41422). See also Educ. Code Sec. 37202 (excusing such schools from the “equal time” requirement).
Are districts obligated to pay staff at schools that are closed?
Nothing in the Education Code excuses districts from their contractual obligations to pay staff in the
event a school is closed due to an epidemic or emergency order. The fact that the Education Code
protects the district’s funding makes it extremely difficult for districts to argue that they cannot comply
with contractual commitments due to the school closure. For these reasons, the past practice in
California has been to pay school staff even when schools are shut down due to an emergency.
What are my legal rights to take a leave of absence if I get coronavirus?
The same sick leave provisions apply to illness from coronavirus as apply to other illnesses.
In addition to leave provided for in your collective bargaining agreement, the Education Code
guarantees certificated employees who are employed five days a week a minimum of ten (10) paid days
of leave due to illness for a school year of service (Educ. Code Sec. 44978).
Employees who have exhausted all available and accumulated sick leave and continue to be absent for
up to five months due to illness are eligible for differential pay leave (Educ. Code Sec. 44977 for
certificated employees and Sec. 45196 for classified employees).
Can a district force someone off work if s/he is suspected of being infected but is not officially quarantined by any health agency? As stated above, in addition to other leaves a district provides, Education Code Sections 44964 and 45199 give districts discretion to grant paid leave to certificated and classified staff due to an epidemic – both for illness and quarantine. Therefore, if a district wishes to compel someone to take leave due to suspected illness or exposure, chapters should insist that such leave be paid under Section 44964 or 45199 and not be deducted from the employee’s accumulated leave time.
March 27, 2020