The Blue Valley National Education Association is requesting the district use emergency pandemic relief funds to extend paid leave up to 10 days if staff must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.
In letter sent to the Blue Valley Board of Education over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, the teachers union urged the district to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Reliefs funds for additional sick days for all classified and certified staff.
The request comes as schools across Johnson County have struggled to stay open with hundreds of teachers and staff members out sick or in isolation due to the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
“We have staff stretched to the limit who have exhausted all sick days” the BVNEA’s letter says. “When these days are gone, staff are forced to choose between taking care of themselves and their families or financial stability.”
District spokesperson Kaci Brutto said Blue Valley is aware of the letter and is currently working with the Blue Valley Education Association, the primary teachers union within the district, to address the issue.
She said the district does not typically bargain with the BVNEA as the union does not represents the majority of the teachers within Blue Valley.
Since the start of the 2021-22 school year, the BVEA has represented approximately 1,800 general and special education teachers in the district.
“The BVEA is also the recognized bargaining organization by the Department of Labor, so we usually work closely with them,” Brutto said.
It is uncertain if the issue of additional leave days will ever be brought to a formal school board meeting. However, she said, the matter is currently being worked out between district staff and the BVEA.
“The district’s really tried to listen and be responsive when there’s been similar ideas and requests in the past,” Brutto said.
For the week of Jan. 8 through the 14, the Blue Valley COVID dashboard showed a total of 105 staff absent throughout the district.
Only one school, Oak Hill Elementary, reported having zero COVID-related absences among staff.
“If we truly stand by the statement on the Blue Valley District website that we are ‘committed to prioritizing the health and safety of its students and staff,’ we must act to support staff at this critical time,” the BVNEA wrote in the letter.
Read the Blue Valley NEA’s letter below: