This page was last updated on Sept. 23, 2021.
What paid administrative leave options are available if an employee is sick, needs to quarantine, or remain in isolation due to COVID-19?
In addition to personal days available to employees, there may be other leave options to consider. A school board could adopt a policy expanding local sick leave for employees who choose to or must remain in isolation. Such a policy could be adopted on an emergency basis to provide a public benefit to the district and to the community.
Additionally, although the requirement that employers provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on Dec. 31, 2020, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 does allow districts to receive payroll tax credit if they voluntarily provide paid sick leave or extended family leave pursuant to the FFCRA until Sept. 30, 2021.
The FFCRA Leave provides:
Again, the above provisions apply only to districts and schools that voluntarily adopted extended sick or family leave for which payroll tax credits are available until Sept. 30, 2021. Information on the payroll tax credit is available from the Internal Revenue Service.
Do districts have flexibility for educator certification assignments to address challenges due to COVID?
Yes. TEA's Certification Assignment Flexibility document outlines some options available for districts to address some of the most common certification assignment challenges and scenarios related to educator certification assignment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flexibilities* are:
Districts can consider District Of Innovation flexibilities when there are vacancies in hard-to-fill assignments, or when urgent campus needs can be best met by having a certified teacher teach outside their area of certification. Flexibilities must be documented in the district’s locally created and approved DOI plans. Districts can also complete a process to revise their DOI plan and establish increased flexibility to meet future needs.
Districts can consider Teacher Certification Waivers when a DOI plan is not in place and/or when the DOI plan does not include the necessary flexibility to meet the situational needs of a campus. The educator qualifications to teach must be vetted and approved by the board of trustees and commissioner of education (commissioner has 30 days to review). This waiver could be utilized for a candidate who is enrolled in an educator preparation program and has been issued an SBEC certificate (i.e., Intern or Probationary), but the campus needs the aspiring educator to teach in an area outside of those approved by the EPP. The waiver is valid for a maximum of three years (approval requested each school year).
Districts can consider a School District Teaching Permit in very specific situations when the DOI and Teacher Certification Waivers are not an option and a more long-term, district-specific solution is needed. SDTPs are valid for life (unless revoked for cause by the district) and cannot be issued to certified teachers. The candidate must have a bachelor’s degree unless teaching non-core academic career and technical education courses, which must be approved by a district's board of trustees. Individuals teaching courses for foundation credits must be approved by the district board of trustees and the commissioner of education (commissioner has 30 days to review). An application is required, which can be found here: School District Teaching Permit.
*Note: These flexibilities are not applicable for special education, bilingual, or ESL assignments due to federal requirements and state statutes. If certification flexibility options are applied to educators actively enrolled in an educator preparation program, these options do not supersede EPP requirements found in the Texas Administrative Code. Educator candidates must complete certification exam and preparation program requirements for issuance of the aligned SBEC-issued certificate.