Schools, teachers sign agreement on COVID

BAR HARBOR — The school committees and teachers associations in Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Trenton and MDI High School have ratified an addendum to their collective bargaining agreement that addresses “the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employees’ wages, hours and working conditions.”

The terms of the new five-page agreement are in the categories of Health & Safety, Compensation, Leave & Schedules and Work Assignments & Environment.

Under the agreement, “[School] staff will be supplied with PPE [personal protective equipment] using CDC guidelines in order to accomplish their work during the instructional day. The district will require…that facial coverings/masks and any/all other required PPE must be used by all persons in the school building at all times.”

In addition, “The parties recognize that the reopening plan provides for remote instruction so that the virus should not cause a reduction in the 184-day work year.”

The agreement between school committees and the teachers associations also provides that “COVID-19 vaccinations, if not covered by the employee’s health insurance plan under the preventative care provisions, and [are] reasonably available, will be provided to employees under this agreement at no cost.”

Under the agreement, “The school committees will establish a paid leave bank for all employees. This sick bank will be separate from the existing sick banks. Each eligible employee will be allowed up to ten paid days from the COVID sick bank for days that they cannot work (either in person or remotely) due to the coronavirus…”

In addition, each teachers association may establish a COVID sick leave pool for the current school year. “Each teacher who wishes 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.”

If, at any time this year, Superintendent Marc Gousse decides that the schools will return to distance learning only, “each principal shall be given up to three days to transition to full distance learning in consultation with the [teachers] association.”

During the current school year, continuing contract teachers will not be subject to any formal evaluation. Evaluations will be suspended until the Maine Department of Education’s steering committee on Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth (PEPG) can review and modify the PEPG system.

The agreement on COVID-related issues was ratified by the school committees in special meetings Oct. 22-26 and, following those meetings, by the individual teachers associations.

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]

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