In January, the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus swept across California. There were nearly 140,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed statewide on January 21st—the highest daily amount during the entire course of the pandemic. However, the outbreak receded. On March 1st, there were fewer than 6,000 cases in California. Public health and safety policies are changing, too.
EdSource reports that California is dropping its statewide mask mandate for schools starting March 11th. Further, California’s Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) recently released new workplace safety guidance schools. Here, our Fresno workers’ comp lawyer discusses and explains your rights if you get COVID-19 while working at a school in California.
An Overview of the CHSWC’s Workplace Safety Guidelines for Schools
In accordance with state regulations, CHSWC has published a comprehensive School Action for Safety and Health Planfor teachers and other educational employees. While certain regulations are changing—including California’s statewide mask mandate rule for schools—both public schools and private schools have a legal responsibility to protect their workers. Pursuant to Cal/OSHA regulations, school-based employers must to the following:
- Implement a COVID-19 symptom screening program—ensuring that employees with symptoms stay home;
- Take proactive steps to confirm that the building’s ventilation system meets state requirements;
- Provide free, effective facial coverings to all employees;
- Put a system in place to make sure that surfaces are reasonably cleaned and sanitized; and
- Give employees plenty of time to wash their hands.
In its updated safety guidance California’s CHSWC notes that physical distancing (social distancing) is not required in schools. Any school may opt to continue with a social distancing plan, but they are not required to do so to be in compliance with Cal/OSHA’s workplace safety requirements.
If you are a teacher or other school employee who contracted COVID-19 and you believe that it is linked to your workplace, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your health, safety, and legal rights. Among other things, you should:
- Isolate yourself to prevent any further spread of the virus;
- Seek medical attention if necessary (not all COVID-19 cases require medical care);
- Record any information you have related to transmission—such as a student being sick in your classroom; and
- Consider filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
Teachers and other education personnel can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they contract the COVID-19 virus in school. If you have any specific questions about your rights, an experienced Fresno, CA workers’ comp lawyer can help.
An experienced California workers’ compensation attorney, Joseph C. Yrulegui has the professional expertise that you can trust. If you have any questions about COVID-19 work illness claims for school employees, we are here to help. Contact us now for a confidential legal consultation. We represent workers in Fresno and throughout all of Central California.