President’s Blog

December 24, 2020


Talking points against the proposed new sick leave policy

  • Forcing quarantined teachers to use their sick leave when they are well enough to do their jobs is a bad policy for teachers, a bad policy for taxpayers, and a bad policy for our students.
  1. Compelling quarantined educators to use their sick leave legally obligates them not to work. 
    1. It restricts them from logging on and continuing to teach online classes, even if they are perfectly able to do so.
    2. This Policy is an unnecessary financial burden on teachers at a time when we cannot afford to give our educators any more reasons to take their talents elsewhere. 
  2. This Policy severely disrupts the continuity of instruction for students. 
    1. When teachers are absent, students have a substitute or an Associate teacher for the time the teacher is out. For a COVID quarantine, this could be 5-10 class days or longer.
    2. However talented or well-meaning, a substitute is not equivalent to a teacher that has been carefully chosen by a school administrator for a particular class or department and has been an integral part of the school community from before our children step onto campus. 
    3. Furthermore, there are not enough substitutes to go around, generally. This problem is particularly critical in AP classes or where certification is needed in GT and Special Education. When there is no appropriate substitute available, our students may get shuffled to another online class in a similar subject, or, in smaller schools, students may even miss two weeks of vital instruction.
  3. Many teachers have children of their own, and contrary to popular wishful thinking, children can indeed contract COVID. 
    1. How would the proposed changes apply if a teacher has to stay home because one of their children has COVID or was exposed to COVID?
  4. Contact tracing is flawed as it is. 
    1. Only covering leave for teachers who can prove they contracted the virus at work sounds like a convenient way for the district to deny COVID coverage to anyone. That is not the sort of relationship between teachers and administration that HISD claims to want to foster.
    2. As parents and taxpayers, we do not want our tax dollars spent on substitutes and HISD central administration investigations of COVID cases. That money is best spent on our full-time teachers and students and efforts to prevent COVID transmission.
  5. This proposed policy change provides an incentive for teachers to not report that they have or have been exposed to COVID-19. Unreported illness could have a severe negative impact on everyone involved.
  6. These circumstances have already disrupted the lives of our students significantly. In order to serve our students well, we need to focus on continuity and consistency. 
  • We ask that no changes in Policy occur on January 4th. 
  • We ask that the current COVID-19 Policy for Teachers remain in place and only be revisited after all HISD Teachers and staff are offered the COVID Vaccine in 2021.