Team Duval News | Tracey Pierce | August 4, 2020
An agreement between Duval Teachers United (DTU), Duval County Public Schools, and five other employee representative groups will give teachers and other district employees a new COVID-19 related health benefit and will improve the district’s responsiveness to potential COVID-19 cases in schools.
Under the agreement initially proposed by DTU, employees will not be responsible for out-of-pocket costs for covered medical services associated with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
DTU is the employee representative group for teachers, UOPD personnel and paraprofessionals within Duval County Public Schools.
The agreement also authorizes the purchase and use of COVID-19 rapid tests. With approval of the agreement, district administration will develop procedures for select employee COVID-19 testing with a 24-hour turnaround.
Rapid testing will enable school health personnel to more quickly identify if an employee has COVID-19 and then take appropriate measures if needed to prevent the spread of the virus and minimize the impact on school operations.
“We are very pleased that the district has come to agreement with us and the other employee representative groups on this issue,” said Terrie Brady, president of DTU. “We are all operating in new and unpredictable conditions, and it will be a great relief to educators knowing that the personal financial impacts of COVID-19 are covered”
Five other employee representative groups have the ability to sign on to the agreement, which will go before the Duval County Public School Board for final approval at its September meeting.
Warren A. Jones, chairman of the Duval County Public School Board said that he looks forward to advocating for this agreement with the full Board.
“Our school district and our educators have always provided extraordinary service to students and families in our community,” said Jones. “We are moving forward now within the significant constraints and impact of a worldwide pandemic. To work in partnership with DTU and our other employee groups to help our employees manage the potential financial implications is very rewarding.”
Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said that she was thankful to DTU for bringing this to the bargaining table and honored to bring it to the school board.
“It is the right thing to do for our classroom educators and other school and district employees as we enter the school environment with COVID still in the picture.” Dr. Greene said. “Just like we are taking steps to mitigate the spread, this agreement will help mitigate financial impacts if the disease does impact one of our team members. I’m thankful for the leadership and collaboration of DTU and our other employee groups to be able to provide this safety net for our employees.”
Procedures for COVID-19 rapid testing will be developed following official Board approval. The purpose of this testing is to determine within 24 hours if an employee, who is exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms, has the virus. Rapid testing will allow the district to identify positive COVID-19 cases faster and enable more rapid contact tracing. These are key strategies for preventing further spread of COVID-19 in our school and community.