Protecting you and those you care for from the coronavirus!
Information is power when it comes ensuring the health and safety of our members and those we care for. With reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading across the globe and nation, we want to make sure that you have the most up-to-date information on how to best protect yourself.
Messages from Executive Director Gibbons on COVID-19 & School Employees
The situation is evolving rapidly. Please see the links below for the most up-to-date information.
- New MN COVID-19 Dashboard
- Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
- Minnesota Department of Education
- Minnesota Department of Health
- World Health Organization (WHO) Situation Reports
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Novel Coronavirus
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidance for Healthcare Workers
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control COVID-19 cases geographical distribution
As a union of school workers, we respect and care for people of all nationalities and ethnicities and realize that screening for the coronavirus must be based upon an individual’s likely exposure to the virus — not their language or skin color. We will support and encourage respectful treatment of all patients and team members during this challenging period. SEIU will continue to monitor the outbreak and provide additional materials to help members protect themselves and their communities.
MN Department of Education FAQ on School Closure – 3/15/2020
School Closures Bill:
On Wednesday 3/11 The House DFL released their COVID-19 response package you can find details here: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/profile/news/12266/27865
The bill that has the greatest direct impact on our members is HF 4415, which would require school districts to continue to pay all employees for the entire duration of COVID-19 related school closures. The authors are Davnie; Youakim; Olson; Winkler; Christensen; Bierman; Freiberg; Wolgamott. You can find the language here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF4415&type=bill&version=0&session=ls91&session_year=2020&session_number=0
On Friday 3/13 the Senate companion to the School Closures bill was introduced. The text is currently identical to the bill in the House. The authors are: Abeler; Housley; Relph; Hoffman; Nelson.
SEIU Local 284 is working closely with the House and Senate to make sure that this legislation gets passed quickly.
Governor Walz Response:
On Friday 3/13 Governor Walz declared a peace time state of emergency. You can find more details about his declaration here: https://mn.gov/governor/news/#/detail/appId/1/id/423050
At that time Governor Walz also introduced his own package of legislative proposals to combat the spread of COVID-19. In his remarks Walz highlighted the bill to ensure that hourly school employees are paid, which is good news for our members. You can find the full list of proposals from the Governor here: https://mn.gov/governor/assets/COVID19LegislativeProposals%20Handout_tcm1055-423049.pdf
On Sunday 3/15 Governor Walz issued and Executive Order shutting down the schools by Wednesday, March 18 until at least Friday, March 27 to accommodate planning between school staff, teachers, and administrators with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Here is the framework that schools are instructed to use as they prepare for closures and distance learning. It includes information about nutrition, special education, meal and instructional materials distribution and other issues that will impact our members. It also makes clear that regularly scheduled funding to districts will not be interrupted. School Closure Guidance for Public School Districts and Charter Schools
The Department of Education also released this Frequently Asked Questions document, which has helpful information and answers to questions that many 284 members have been asking
Will we get paid during the closure?
Schools will continue to receive funding throughout the closure, and Gov. Walz has made it clear that all school workers, including hourly employees, should continue to get paid as regularly scheduled.
No school employee should lose pay, benefits, or PTO due to the closure. We hope districts do the right thing, but if not, let your Contract Organizer know right away, and we will work together to address it. Districts will be kept whole and our employees should be kept whole too. Stay tuned for info on legislation that would legally require them to do so.
Who should come in to work?
Watch for communications from your district about who should report to work. Many of us–except employees who are “at risk”–will likely continue to work during this closure. Schools may provide distance learning, nutritional services, care for the children of emergency workers, special ed services, and more. Stewards and Contract Organizers will need to work together to ensure our voices are included in your district’s planning process.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people over 60 years old, or those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, etc) are considered “at risk”. If you think you might be at risk, “it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.” Please read these guidelines from the CDC, and reach out to your steward or Contract Organizer if you need help.
What if we need to take care of family members?
Our union contracts as well as Minnesota’s family leave laws still apply. You have a right to take care of your family members. Contact your Contract Organizer for any questions.
What is suggested for limiting the spread of COVID 19?
Please carefully read over these guidelines from the MN Dept. of Health. These guidelines for social distancing, hand-washing, etc. should all be followed at our workplaces and beyond.
What if workplace safety or training is not adequate?
Safety should always be the #1 priority at work. If you have questions or concerns, make sure you stay safe, communicate with management, and reach out to your Contract Organizer if needed. We are here to support you.