Last week, we advised members that you should not respond to the CPS vaccination survey if you believe your response to it will result in CPS revoking your telework accommodation prior to the beginning of the fourth quarter, in violation of your rights under the “MOA” (officially, the “Memorandum of Agreement on the Resumption of In-person Instruction”). This is still our advice. We provide more details below.
Since we sent that guidance, CPS has sent a new email to members stating, “If we do not receive your vaccination status, or the ADA Recertification Form due to a medical or religious exemption by March 24th, our office will end your ADA accommodation and convert your telework status to in-person work effective April 16 [which is the first working day of the fourth quarter for employees].” This reverses their earlier stance that they would violate the MOA by forcing revoking telework assignments before the beginning of the fourth quarter.
There are good public health and policy reasons for an employer — particularly a large school district — to know the vaccination status of employees during a pandemic. And as a general matter, it is legal for employers, including CPS, to require employees to disclose their vaccination status. However, revoking proper accommodations covered by a legally binding agreement is not a valid reason to require notice of vaccination, so we will keep enforcing your rights.
April 6 Update
We have continued to insist that members deserve accommodations to support family situations. This doesn’t only include the obvious situations in which a household member is at high medical risk. CTU members are parents, too. The pandemic is still creating child care issues and other crucial situations where a member may be forced to choose between work and safety. Members who have applied for accommodations should hear from CPS soon, if they haven’t already. If you do not get a reply to your accommodation this week, you should contact your field rep. CPS has confirmed that pregnant and nursing members who requested accommodations should be receiving approval, but CPS is indicating reticence around other circumstances.
Here’s what’s happening for fourth quarter:
- If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons or have some other continuing need for an accommodation (such as a high-risk household member who cannot be vaccinated), you should complete and submit the accommodation recertification form.
- Taking away your current accommodation prior to the end of the 3rd quarter would be a violation of our agreement. If you have been granted a remote work accommodation and receive a directive to report for in-person work before the end of the quarter, please immediately contact your CTU Field Representative.
- Although employers are allowed to reevaluate ADA and other accommodations based on needs (such as the number of students returning to in-person schooling), our negotiated agreement helps protect us. It clearly states, “Accommodations and leave requests for the fourth academic quarter shall not be unreasonably denied.” If you have reason for a continued remote work accommodation due to your high-risk status or that of a household member and are unfairly denied the request, please bring the matter to your school Safety Committee and contact your Field Representative.
- Be aware that if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and your telework accommodation was based on having a Covid-19 high-risk condition, you likely will not qualify to have your accommodation recertified for the 4th quarter.
- If you do not respond to CPS’s vaccination status survey or submit your ADA accommodation recertification form to CPS by March 24, CPS will likely end your accommodation and direct you to return to in-person work effective at the beginning of the 4th quarter. CPS is likely within its legal rights to do this, however, it would be a violation of the agreement to change your telework status before that time.
Here are some common questions (plus answers!) we’ve received about these issues:
I have been working remotely on an ADA accommodation due to a personal health condition that puts me at high risk for Covid-19. I recently became fully vaccinated. I responded to the CPS vaccination status survey before I saw the CTU’s guidance on responding to the survey. As a result, I’ve been told I need to return in-person on Monday April 5th. I’m still not comfortable returning. What are my alternatives?
If your accommodation was granted due to your own Covid-19 high-risk condition and you are now fully vaccinated, you will likely not qualify for an accommodation for the 4th quarter. CPS, however, is violating our Memorandum of Agreement on the Resumption of In-person Instruction (“MOA”) by revoking Covid-19 related accommodations prior to the conclusion of the 3rd quarter. Section 8(e) of our MOA provides, in relevant part, “While Quarter 4 decisions are pending, all Quarter 3 staffing decision shall remain in effect.” So you have three options:
- Option 1 – If you are uncomfortable returning in-person prior to the beginning of the 4th quarter, you can take the unpaid, job-protected leave with benefits established by Section 8(d) of the MOA for the remainder of the 3rd Quarter by emailing your principal and email@example.com and notifying them of your intent to do so. In that email you should also state that you believe CPS has violated your rights under the MOA by revoking your accommodation prior to the conclusion of the 3rd Quarter and that you reserve all rights to challenge that decision. Then you should get in touch with your CTU field representative to file a grievance seeking back pay for the time you were forced to take unpaid leave as a result of CPS revoking your accommodation prior to the conclusion of the 3rd Quarter in violation of the MOA.
- Option 2 – Return to work in-person on April 5.
- Option 3 – If you have a family or medical situation that allows you to qualify, you can apply for an FMLA leave. FMLA leaves are unpaid, but you can use days from your sick day bank to be paid while you are on an FMLA leave. If you want to extend your unpaid leave for Quarter 4, you will have to apply to do so and CPS states that they will “not unreasonably deny” such requests.
I am currently working remotely with an ADA accommodation due to my own Covid-19 high-risk health condition or as a primary caregiver of a Covid-19 high-risk family member. I did not respond to the CPS vaccination status survey and have been informed that my leave will end with the 3rd Quarter and that I must return in-person on Friday, April 16th. I am in the process of becoming fully vaccinated but will not be two weeks past my second shot until after that date. What should I do?
As we’ve previously advised, you should provide your vaccination information to CPS and request that your return date be pushed back until two weeks after your second shot. CPS will require you to provide proof of appointment status and specifics to permit you to continue remotely until that date. CPS should then extend your accommodation accordingly.
Although I am fully vaccinated, I am the primary caregiver for someone who is not yet vaccinated or whose medical provider has advised them not to be vaccinated at this time due to a health condition. Consequently, I don’t feel safe returning in person. What should I do?
You should apply for an extension to your primary caregiver accommodation and be prepared with the necessary medical documentation. Section 8(e) of the MOA provides that “Accommodations and leave requests for the fourth academic quarter shall not be unreasonably denied.” This is a situation where we believe it would be unreasonable to deny your request.
Although I am fully vaccinated, I have severe asthma and have severe reactions to the disinfectant products being used in the building.
You should apply for an extension to your ADA accommodation and be prepared with the necessary documentation. We also believe this is a situation where it would be unreasonable to deny your request as cited in Section 8(e) of the MOA.
I have a health condition that has caused my doctor to advise that I should not be vaccinated at the present time. Can I remain on remote work?
You should apply for an extension to your ADA accommodation and be prepared with the necessary documentation. This is a situation where we believe it would be unreasonable for CPS to deny your request as cited in Section 8(e) of the MOU.
What are my alternatives if my request for ADA is denied for 4th Quarter?
There are several possibilities. If you have a qualifying health condition, you can apply for FMLA, which would guarantee your job. It would also enable you to use your sick day benefits while on leave. If you cannot qualify or do not have benefit days you wish to use, you can apply for an unpaid leave. CPS has indicated that they will consider applications for job-protected unpaid leave for Quarter 4, and our MOA provides that such requests cannot be unreasonably denied.
On the district level, CTU officers and staff will continue to enforce the MOA we all fought for. We will also back up the safety committee in each and every school as you enforce the MOA in your building. Keep standing united for safety. When we fight, we win.