Going forward, MEA will provide frequent updates regarding the changing situation surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on our students, educators and schools. Please understand, this situation is changing rapidly and MEA is doing its best to provide the most up-to-date information as possible, understanding that information and guidance could change daily. The items below are issues the MEA is working toward, as the Association continues to speak with state and local officials. 

Reporting to Work and Sick Time 

An item in yesterday’s update around sick leave caused some confusion. To clarify, MEA recommends for Local Associations to connect with the school district and get agreement that individuals won’t have to use their own sick time, if they need to be out of work to care for a family member or if they are in a high-risk category. That’s the goal. If agreement cannot be reached on that attempt, try to gain or increase access to a sick leave bank that is replenished by the district, based on need, so people will not run out of paid time. Until individuals hear otherwise from their Association, they should use sick time for these absences using normal school district reporting requirements and not access unemployment or go unpaid.   

Someone at My Work Location Tested Positive 

In the event that someone at your work location tests positive or presumptive positive for COVID-19, MEA recommends you follow all of the proper social distancing guidelines as outlined by the CDC, keeping yourself at least 6 feet from another person and never gathering in a group of 10 people or more. If you are in a high-risk category, please see the sick time guidance above.  

Additional Recommendations MEA is Advocating For During This Time 

  1. MEA recommends that all public employees and higher education faculty and staff continue to be paid their regular earnings and benefits during the crisis. (In progress-MEA expects an update from the Commissioner on this item shortly.) 
  2. MEA recommends that all teachers and education support professionals NOT be required to enter any school buildings while they remain closed to students. MEA recommends that all staff be allowed the flexibility to work remotely. If it is necessary for some staff to be in school buildings, it should be on a very limited basis, with provisions for strictly following the most recent CDC guidelines and with the utmost regard for keeping all involved safe. 
  3. MEA recommends that all custodial staff receive and use proper safety gear while cleaning. 
  4. MEA recommends that all mandatory standardized testing be suspended for the remainder of the school year. (In progress-The Commissioner will be applying for a federal waiver, per this recommendation) 
  5. MEA recommends that all professional development requirements be suspended for the remainder of the school year. 
  6. MEA recommends that all teacher certifications scheduled to expire in 2020 be extended until 2021. 
  7. MEA recommends that all local presidents and employer representatives maintain regular communication during the crisis to keep lines of communication open. (In Progress) 
  8. MEA will speak with the Commissioner of Education to recommend that any educator(s) working with students covered under an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan be held harmless for any provisions of IEP/504 plans that cannot be met as a result of the ongoing school closure and for any period of remote learning. 
  9. MEA recommends all local associations engage with employers on the impact of school closure, specifically on health and safety, who is expected to work, help and resources for remote instruction, delivering of food and instructional materials. 
  10. MEA recommends that for those who are currently enrolled in a pre-service program at a public university in Maine that any student teaching time should be completed this year, or if that is not possible, that time should be waived. 

MEA would like to thank our members, local leaders, and administrators who are setting reasonable expectations and working hard to keep our students and staff safe during this difficult time. 

If you have questions, please reach out. MEA is here to support you during this time.  

Contact us! https://maineea.org/coronavirus/ 

Stay Safe, 

Grace Leavitt  

MEA President