Schools, teachers reach COVID agreement    



BAR HARBOR — An agreement that addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teachers’ wages, hours and working conditions has been reached by the elected school committees in each of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System towns and the teachers’ associations in each of the schools. 

The COVID agreement is an addendum to the collective bargaining agreement that expired Aug. 31, but whose provisions will remain in effect until a new teachers’ contract is negotiated. 

The six-page addendum specifies that school staff will be provided PPE (personal protective equipment) to wear during the school day. The school system will continue to require that face masks be used at all times by everyone over the age of 2 in the school buildings. 

“Staff who are required to work in close proximity to meet the educational and/or behavioral needs of students shall be provided with enhanced PPE, using CDC guidelines, daily for each student they work with,” the new agreement states. 

“Staff who are unable to maintain six feet of distance will be provided additional PPE including face shields, gowns, booties and gloves, as requested.” 

If COVID-19 vaccinations are not covered by an employee’s health insurance 

plan or provided by government agencies, they will be provided at no cost to the employee. 

“The parties agree that staff who have to be out of school for [reasons related to COVID]…and are reasonably able to complete necessary work remotely shall be 

allowed or expected to telework,” the agreement states. 

The elected school committees agree to establish a COVID Sick Bank to provide paid leave for employees who cannot work, either in person or remotely, because of the coronavirus. Each eligible employee will be allowed up to 15 paid days from the COVID Sick Bank, which will be separate from existing sick banks.  

Each school’s teachers association may also establish a COVID sick leave pool, and teachers may contribute up to 10 of their accumulated sick leave days to the pool.  

“Days may be contributed at any time during the contracted school year, and any teacher may access days after having contributed one day to the pool,” the agreement stipulates. 

“Days in the COVID sick leave pool may be accessed by a teacher who…has been diagnosed with COVID-19, has exhausted the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, has exhausted their COVID Sick Bank and remains too ill to return to work in person or remotely.” 

The new COVID agreement also states, “The [school] committees and teachers recognize that during a pandemic, schedules may be altered throughout the school year to serve the emerging needs of the school. 

“Should the superintendent make the decision to move to full distance learning, each principal shall be given up to three days to transition to full distance learning in consultation with the [teachers] association.” 

 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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