Dear Team DPS,
In response to the Governor’s new public health order and in preparation for the spring semester, DPS is taking a new approach to employee requests for COVID-19 accommodations. We hope these changes will more effectively balance the needs of our employees while meeting the operational needs of schools and facilities to better serve our students and community members.
Under the new public health order, employers cannot require “Individuals at Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19” to report to work in person. Employers must provide accommodations which will address COVID concerns to at-risk employees at the employee’s request (e.g., additional PPE, remote work, leave, etc.). The list of medical conditions (see page 31) that qualify an employee as an “Individual at Risk for Severe Illness” is slightly different than it was under prior executive and public health orders, but the effect is the same: If we cannot grant an at-risk employee’s request for remote work, then that employee is entitled to a leave of absence.
With that in mind, please read these important updates for next semester, and please note the Dec. 7 deadline for any accommodation requests.
Employees at Risk for Severe Illness with Existing Accommodations
For employees who were considered “Vulnerable Individuals” under the prior order and who have an existing accommodation through Dec. 31, their accommodations will be extended through the second semester or upon the termination of the Governor’s executive order, whichever is first.
For some individuals, we may need additional information. If you fall into either of the categories below, a member of the Leave of Absence team will reach out to you directly:
- Since asthma and diabetes type I are no longer qualifying medical conditions under the new order, the leaves team will review the existing medical documentation for each case to determine if additional information is needed.
- Individuals who currently have a personal accommodation because they are pregnant will be contacted by the leaves team if more information is needed.
Employees at Risk for Severe Illness Who Need to Request a NEW Accommodation
Employees who do not have an existing accommodation and who would be considered an “Individual at Risk for Severe Illness” under the public health order can apply for an accommodation for personal medical conditions. Please submit your accommodation request by Dec. 7.
- As mentioned, under the updated Public Health Order, the conditions that qualify for a personal health accommodation have changed -- check this list (page 31) to see if you qualify. As with prior accommodations, these requests will be directed to the employee’s supervisor and HR partner for review. If a leader cannot accommodate a remote-work request, the employee will be placed on leave and will not be required to report in person.
Employees with Household Members Who are Individuals at Risk of Severe Illness
Given DPS’ operational need for more in-person work, we will not be able to offer fully remote work to employees with at-risk household members. Existing remote work accommodations for employees with vulnerable individuals in households expire on Dec. 31.
- Employees with at-risk household members may request an accommodation for flexibility in schedules, additional protections or more frequent breaks. Please submit your accommodation request by Dec. 7.
- Requests will be directed to the employee’s supervisor and HR partner. If a leader cannot issue an accommodation suitable for the employee, the employee may elect to take an unpaid leave.
- Note, as always, if an employee needs a medical leave to care for a family member, Family Medical Leave and accrued paid sick leave options still apply.
- These workplace accommodations will be effective until there is an operational need to end or change the accommodation. Employees will receive at least two weeks’ notice before the change is implemented.
Employees with Child Care or Elder Care Needs
Given DPS’ operational need for more in-person work, we will not be able to offer remote work to individuals who lack child care coverage. Existing remote work accommodations for employees with child care needs will expire on Dec. 31.
- Employees who need some form of workplace accommodation (e.g. flexible schedule, additional protections) must submit a request for an accommodation by Dec. 7.
- Requests will be directed to leaders and HR partners for review.
- Note that, under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), if a leader cannot modify an employee’s request, then when a school is closed/remote due to a public health emergency, that employee is entitled to use any accrued paid sick leave.
- These accommodations will be effective until there is an operational need to end or change the accommodation. Employees will receive at least two weeks’ notice before the change is implemented.
Thank you for your ongoing flexibility and understanding as we all strive to keep our students learning and each other healthy and safe. If you have questions, please reach out to HR_Connect@dpsk12.org.
Chief Human Resources Officer