Coronavirus FAQs - What Employees Should Know

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is working closely with Montgomery County Government, county agencies, schools and healthcare providers to ensure that preparations are in place to respond to this evolving situation, and that the public is informed of current events related to the disease and our response efforts.

As an MCPS employee, you may have questions about how affects you and your workplace. Please read the following FAQs carefully to stay informed about the most current workplace policies regarding COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and guidance may change without notice, although we will be working to update this information periodically. We are in touch with administrators and supervisors every day. Additionally, the Family First Coronavirus Act will be effective April 2, 2020, and MCPS will provide more information to staff soon regarding implementation of this new Act.

School System Operating Status

 

While School facilities remain physically closed to students between March 30, 2020 and April 24, 2020, schools and administrative offices are in open status for employees during this period of remote learning. The emergency closure of schools that was in effect between March 16 and March 27 has ended. However, under direction of the State Superintendent of Schools, school districts must now provide “continuity of learning” for students remotely. For MCPS and other school systems in Maryland, this means schools and administrative offices open for staff work per normal operating status, but that staff work will look very different.

 

As a result of this March 30, 2020 executive order, no MCPS staff members may access MCPS facilities, including schools and offices, unless you are provided authorization in the following ways:

  • You are authorized by the Associate Superintendent for Operations or the Chief Technology Officer, and have been notified, to work physically on site beginning tomorrow, March 31, 2020 to support food distribution, facilities management, technology infrastructure, materials management, and systemwide safety and emergency management, continuity of learning, or other core operational functions.
  • You are provided access by a principal, only under the express authorization of the Chief of Schools or Chief Technology Officer, to a school or facility for the sole purpose of receiving a mobile technology device or other materials needed for working remotely.
  • Principals and school-based administrators are authorized to access their school facility as they determine necessary MCPS is working with each employee association, SEIU, MCEA, MCAAP/MCBOA, regarding this directive and the authorization of specific employees in the SEIU bargaining unit for on-site work, including impacts on compensation and working conditions.
 
Workplace Safety

 

In-person meetings should be limited or conducted on a virtual basis. For technology assistance, please call the IT Help Desk at 301-517-5800. For employees working on site for critical operations, such as in the Division of Food and Nutrition Services and the Department of Facilities Management, social distancing practices should be employed for in-person meetings and coordination of work operations. See below for information about social distancing.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings; avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible." Social distancing is less drastic than quarantine or isolation, which are used for people who are suspected to be sick with or carryiers for COVID-19.

 
  • Allow yourself six feet of space from others.
  • Wave instead of shaking hands.
  • Avoid medical settings unless necessary; consider video visits with your doctor.
  • Avoid coming in contact with individuals with symptoms of illness.
  • Avoid congregating in large public venues.
  • Don’t go out in public when you are sick.
  • Practice excellent personal hygiene:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If you are sick, stay home except to get medical care. Inform your supervisor of any illness.
    • Properly dispose of anything that comes in contact with your mouth, such as tissues or plastic eating utensils.
 

 

Every night and throughout the day, building services staffs are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces that are currently in use for system operations. Employees are encouraged to move items from surfaces, such as conference tables, so that the entire surface can be properly cleaned.

 

Although not required or considered clinically necessary by the Public Health Officer, you may wear your own equipment (masks, gloves, etc.) without MCPS approval. For employees whose position already entails the use of protective equipment, there is no alteration to the current guidelines.

If You, a Family Member or a Co-worker Become Sick

 

If it is a medical emergency, call 911 and let the 911 dispatcher know that you believe you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If it is not an emergency, call your primary care physician (PCP), as well as the Montgomery County Health Line: 240-777-1755. If you do not have a PCP, go to an urgent care facility, but call ahead to provide them with advanced notice so that they can take the necessary precautions to see you. Contact your supervisor by phone to discuss next steps. Supervisors will contact appropriate MCPS administrators to make determinations for individual staff members and next steps for the workplace.

 

Do not report to work. Follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider; contact the Montgomery County Health Line at 240-777-1755; and notify your supervisor by phone or email.

 

Employees should report the concern to their supervisor immediately. Supervisors will follow procedures established by MCPS, including contacting Montgomery County health officials, and encouraging the employee to contact their primary health care provider and the Montgomery County Health Line.

 

If you are directed to self-quarantine by your health professional—even if you are not symptomatic—contact your supervisor immediately and stay home to receive further guidance from MCPS regarding leave and work accommodations. With regard to sick leave, MCPS will ensure that all employees are able to stay home during the required 14-day period of self-isolation or quarantine.

  • If you have been directed by a state/local public health official to self-isolate or self-quarantine—due to your COVID-19 diagnosis, your symptoms or your exposure to a known COVID-19 case—you should stay home. MCPS will work with your situation for the mandated self-isolation/self-quarantine period up to 14 calendar days if you have been required to do so.
  • If you are not symptomatic during the period of self-isolation or self-quarantine—and working remotely is feasible—you may coordinate with your supervisor to work remotely during that period.
  • Additionally, the Family First Coronavirus Act will be effective April 2, 2020, and MCPS will provide more information to staff soon regarding implementation of this new Act.
 

 

Employees who, because of the current COVID-19 situation, are seeking work-related accommodations due to being at higher risk for severe illness or because they care for family members who are at higher risk for severe illness, should notify their supervisor and the Office of Employee Engagement and Labor Relations at 240-740-2888.

 

Normal leave procedures are applicable for employees who are scheduled to work but, for a multitude of reasons, are not able to. Employees requesting workplace accommodations due to an underlying disability should contact the Office of Employee Engagement and Labor Relations at 240-740-2888.”

 
Staffing

 

Schools and administrative offices are in open operating status for employees.

However, only employees authorized by the Associate Superintendent for Operations or the Chief Technology Officer to work physically on site may do so in order to support food distribution, facilities management, technology infrastructure, materials management, systemwide safety and emergency management, continuity of learning, and other core operational functions. Other staff will work remotely to support student learning. Some staff will not be reporting physically to a work site or working remotely as we determine their work assignments. Many details need to be finalized, and this will be done in collaboration with SEIU leadership, as we operate schools in this new normal.

 

 

As schools open for remote learning, administrative offices will continue remain open to ensure continuity of operations in several functional areas. A range of staffing changes may result depending on specific circumstances:

  • Working remotely (see Working Remotely section below for latest updates).
  • Revised scheduling (for example, staffs might shift days they’re in the office, with, some staff working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and other staff working Tuesday and Thursday. Or, some staffs may work morning shifts and others will work afternoon shifts).
  • Closure of specific facilities/worksites.

The ultimate goal of modified staffing is to reduce the number of employees in a workspace and to enable social distancing. The ability and success of these changes will vary widely between different worksites, job classifications, and job functions.

Working Remotely

 

If your job responsibilities are such that working remotely is a possibility, then we want to implement this to the maximum extent possible. Currently, working remotely is the default model for MCPS in job classifications that allow for it. These include primarily computer-based, administrative office positions. Working remotely is not available for staff members directly responsible for the physical operation, maintenance and security of facilities; technology infrastructure; transportation; central services paper-based transaction processes; and food and material distribution.

 

Not all job classifications entail work responsibilities that can be accomplished remotely. The intent behind increasing the number of employees working remotely is to increase the use of social distancing across all MCPS facilities.

 

Please contact the OCTO Help Desk at 301-517-5800.

Temporary Part Time (TPT) and Substitute Employees

 

Yes, all the TPT and substitute employees who would have worked but were unable to work because schools were closed will be paid. This is normally not the case for temporary part time and daily substitute employees during an emergency closure for inclement weather; however, these are extraordinary times and we recognize that every employee—permanent and temporary—are doing their part to support our system-wide response to this crisis.

 

Until we know the complete plan for the remainder of the school year, it is difficult to say yet with certainty yes or no. We value every employee’s contribution and know how difficult these times are. We are working closely with our employee associations, MCEA, SEIU, MCAAP/MCBOA to limit the impacts of this closure on employees. We want to ensure the entire MCPS workforce is cared for and we are actively working on our continuity of learning plan and model of operations for the future. As soon as we have more information, we will share it with all employees.