Employee Information

The Human Resources Department has developed these FAQs to assist employees during the 2022-23 school year. In addition to these FAQs, please also refer to those PWCS policies and regulations governing employee compensation, leave, benefits, and other conditions of employment. To the extent that those policies or regulations are in conflict with recent state or federal laws or regulations enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or to any applicable emergency orders, or where the School Board or Superintendent of Schools otherwise deem it necessary due to special or emergency circumstances arising out of the pandemic, the School Board has the authority to waive such policies and the Superintendent of Schools has the authority to waive such regulations, or portions thereof.

Updated: July 19, 2022

COVID-19 Staff Protocols

Why are employees required to continue to wear masks?

As of February 25, 2022, masks are optional across all PWCS schools and offices for employees, students, and visitors, with the exception of Head Start Pre-K classrooms. Masks continue to be required by federal rules for adults and students in Head Start Pre-K classrooms.

Employees and students can continue to wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk.

If I have underlying health conditions that prevent me from being in a room with unmasked students, what options do I have?
Should you have an underlying health condition that doesn’t allow you to be in a classroom with unmasked students, please refer to the information here to learn more about how to navigate the support process and other assistance that may be available to you. If you have additional questions or concerns, you may contact the Benefits and Compensation Department at benefits@pwcs.edu.
If I have underlying health conditions that prevent me from being in a room with unmasked students, will I be able to teach virtually?
As outlined here, employees who are deemed to be eligible for accommodation will participate in an interactive meeting to discuss job-related limitations imposed by the disability and how those limitations could be overcome with reasonable accommodation. In this meeting, preferred accommodations will be discussed, and a determination will be made regarding whether your preferred accommodation is viable or creates an undue hardship for PWCS. If so, alternative accommodations will be discussed. Since PWCS is servicing almost all students in-person and those who are virtual are primarily taught by third parties (Proximity Learning and Virtual Virginia), virtual teaching opportunities are nearly nonexistent. However, other mitigation strategies are available. If you have additional questions or concerns, you may contact the Benefits and Compensation Department.
I currently have accommodation(s) for mask wearing, do the recent changes to the mask mitigation rules affect my accommodation(s)?
Generally, the new mask mitigations do not affect an individual's accommodation. However, if you have questions, you may contact the Benefits and Compensation Department.
As a staff member, when will I have to quarantine?

Since PWCS will no longer be conducting contact tracing that leads to quarantine on a daily basis, staff will only quarantine when the Prince William Health Department identifies a need due to confirmed COVID transmission rates in schools. In those cases, contract tracing will occur, and close contacts will be notified by the Prince William Health Department.

If/when PWCS engages in contact tracing due to confirmed COVID transmission rates in school and buildings, a five-day quarantine will be required for those staff members who are not fully vaccinated and who are notified that they are a close contact. Day 0 is the day the of the close contact exposure. Staff should return to the workplace on day 6.

When staff returns to the workplace after the fifth day of quarantine, what continued mitigation measures are expected?
Staff will continue to follow all PWCS guidelines for mask wearing. In addition, on days 6-10 staff should:
  • Continue to wear a mask in the community; and
  • Monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • Should symptoms of COVID-19 develop, notify their supervisor, and isolate immediately.
As a staff member, when will I have to isolate and for how long?
Staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19 as evidenced by a COVID-19 test result or health care professional’s diagnosis will isolate for a minimum of 5 days, or until symptoms have significantly improved to include being fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication. Day 0 is the day the symptoms develop or the day that you receive the positive test result, whichever occurs first. Staff may return to the workplace on day six if symptoms have improved, and they have no fever without the use of fever reducing medications. Employees returning on day 6 will be required to wear a mask until at least day 10.
If I am required to isolate, will I have to use my accumulated leave to receive pay during that time?

Yes, you will be required to use any accumulated leave (sick, annual, personal) as you would for any other illness.

Other Benefits-Related Questions

What should I do if I have underlying medical conditions?

Employees with certain underlying medical conditions which place them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 may qualify for an accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

To help us determine whether your medical condition constitutes a disability as defined by the ADA and, if so, whether reasonable workplace accommodations can be provided, the following process will be followed:

  • You and your physician will need to complete the COVID-19 Disability Accommodation Request Form, reviewing your job description and completing all fields in the form. This form can be obtained by emailing benefits@pwcs.edu.
  • Submit your completed COVID-19 Disability Accommodation Request Form to the Benefits and Compensation Department.
  • The Benefits and Compensation Department will review your forms and notify you of your eligibility/ineligibility for reasonable accommodations during the pandemic. This does not mean that your requested accommodation is automatically granted, only that you are eligible/ineligible to be considered for an accommodation.
  • You will be scheduled for an interactive process meeting with your administrator and an administrator from the Benefits and Compensation Department.
  • During the interactive process meeting, the job-related limitations imposed by your disability and how those limitations could be overcome with a reasonable accommodation will be discussed. Your preferred accommodations will be discussed, and a determination will be made regarding whether your preferred accommodation is not available or creates an undue hardship for PWCS. If so, alternative accommodations will be discussed.
  • Once accommodation options have been explored, PWCS will choose what accommodations, if any, will be implemented and both you and your administrator will receive written correspondence documenting the chosen reasonable accommodations.
  • If you are receiving accommodations, you should let your administrator know if there are changes or problems with the accommodation so that we can address your concerns in a timely manner.
What are "reasonable accommodations"?

In general, an accommodation is any reasonable change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. An accommodation is reasonable if it doesn’t create undue hardship for the employer.

There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:

  • Modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
  • Modifications or adjustments that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy such equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by other similarly situated employees without disabilities; or
  • Modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires.

Throughout the pandemic, PWCS has been very proactive in providing reasonable accommodations through implementation of many mitigation measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and implementation of workplace protocols, to allow for the safest return possible. Each employee’s health requirements are different, so the interactive process meetings are individualized to try and meet each employee’s preferred accommodations, the unique needs of each employee’s health situation, and the specific assignment.

How will my situation be handled if my underlying health condition is not one that would place me at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, or if my medical concern is that I live with someone who is medically fragile or has a compromised immune system and I am concerned about exposing my household member to the virus?

PWCS is not required to engage in the interactive process or implement reasonable accommodations for employees whose medical concerns are for someone other than themselves. However, administrators will work with you regarding additional mitigation measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and implementation of workplace protocols that meet federal, state, and local criteria for safety during this pandemic.

What if I get sick with COVID-19? What health guidance should I follow?

Employees should work directly with their health care provider on any issue concerning their health including COVID-19. If you have general questions concerning COVID-19, you can visit the Virginia Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Will staff who exhibit symptoms be required to show a negative COVID-19 test to return to school or work?

A negative COVID-19 test is not required in order for staff to return to work or school, instead only those who have met the CDC criteria for return to school should do so. Consult with the Benefits and Compensation Department to develop a plan for returning to work at benefits@pwcs.edu.

I believe that I have contracted coronavirus through contact while performing my work duties. Will this be covered under workers’ compensation?

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation law provides benefits when an employee suffers an accidental injury, and in some cases, when they contract an occupational disease caused by their employment. While workers’ compensation law provides compensation for “occupational diseases” that arise out of and in the course of employment, Virginia excludes “ordinary diseases of life” (e.g., the common cold or flu). To be covered under workers’ compensation, the employee must prove to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission that the illness arose out of the employment as defined by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Code.

Employee Safety, Health & Wellness at Work

The social and emotional well-being of our employees is key to our success. Our goal is to ensure that all employees are available for work at the highest levels across the Division.

As a PWCS employee, the connections you make changes lives. The information in this guide will equip you with the tools needed to support your pursuit of wellness so that you will be better equipped to respond to the important demands of your job.

Your team in the Office of Human Resources and Student Services are working together to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for guidance and support for all employees and students. We know that we can only give our best to others when we have the best emotional and physical well-being for ourselves.

In the course of your employment, supporting our students and staff may take an emotional toll on you during this pandemic. Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) understands the demands and pressures associated with balancing work and personal life can be overwhelming. PWCS wants to be certain our employees are provided with the best possible support and services. ComPsych provides an Employee Assistance Program and work/life balance services for our employees and their immediate family members.

We all need a support network from time to time. Your Guidance Resources program can help sort it out. The program is provided free of charge and offers someone to talk to and resources to consult whenever and wherever you need them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call ComPsych today for confidential help.
Call 1-844-880-6915 TDD: 1-800-697-0353

ComPsych, can help with many areas of your life that can be very stressful to navigate:

  • Psychological, Anxiety Related & Partner/Relationship
  • Divorce/Separation, Family Law & Civil
  • Income Tax Issues, Hardship Call & General Financial
  • Government Services: Financial Assistance, Moving: Apartment Hunting & Child Care: Nanny

TeleHealth

We recommend Anthem members use telehealth when possible to help prevent the spread of infection and improve access to care. Anthem’s telehealth provider, LiveHealth Online, is a safe and effective way for members to receive medical guidance related to COVID-19 from their homes using a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a web cam.

Telehealth services, including video visits, phone consults and email consults, have been a vital part of the care at Kaiser Permanente for many years. In response to COVID-19, the health system has encouraged patients to use telehealth for most appointments and to email their doctor with their health questions. Telehealth allows members to stay home, while helping mitigate the community spread of COVID-19 and adhere to “social distancing” guidelines, as recommended by the CDC. In addition, it preserves personal protective equipment.

Through its website, KP.org, Kaiser Permanente has the capacity to offer thousands of video visits daily to ensure that members receive the care they need, in the safety of their homes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have a safety concern at work?

If you note a concern when returning to your building, you are encouraged to speak with your administrator. If you are uncomfortable speaking with your administrator, you can email HealthAndSafety@pwcs.edu. All concerns are taken seriously and will be followed-up to ensure the safety of all.

When can individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 discontinue home isolation?

The VDH created a release from isolation or quarantine infographic (PDF) to determine when those exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 can return to work or school. Consult with the Benefits and Compensation Department to develop a plan for returning to work at benefits@pwcs.edu.

Are employees expected to wear face coverings in the workplace?

No.

Will face coverings be required of visitors to PWCS buildings?

No.

COVID-19 Notification Requirements

As an employee, what are the notifications procedures if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you experience any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should immediately leave work (if applicable), notify your supervisor and seek medical guidance from a health care provider. Once you make the official notification your supervisor will send you an email with next steps that include completing a staff surveillance form. Appropriate actions shall be taken to ensure all areas are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
What are the notifications procedures if I am a substitute or temporary employee and test positive for COVID-19?
If you receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, you should immediately leave work (if applicable), notify your supervisor on-site, notify the Substitute and Temporary Employment Department at HRSub@pwcs.edu or 703-791-7897, and seek medical guidance from a health care provider. Your on-site supervisor will send you an email with next steps that include completing a staff surveillance form. Submission of this form triggers the response from the Benefits and Compensation Department advising you of your return-to-work date. Appropriate actions shall be taken to ensure all areas are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Employee Duties, Assignments, Schedules and Telework

Will teachers continue to have a duty-free lunch?

Although it’s not required by Virginia Code, PWCS will continue to make every effort to ensure that teachers have a duty-free lunch period whenever possible.

What if there are not enough substitute teachers to accommodate absences?

The Division is continuing to experience a shortage of substitute teachers. Coverage may involve shifting staff members (such as teacher assistants) to meet students' needs or having other teachers cover in emergency situations.

If I am isolated due to a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, can I telework?

Symptomatic employees will be required to use leave (personal, sick, and/or annual) for isolation due to a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Telework is not a substitute for leave. In very limited circumstances, if the COVID-19-positive employee is asymptomatic, the administrator or supervisor may request to the Benefits and Compensation Department that the employee be allowed to work virtually due to demands and workload of the employee. This request must also be approved by the appropriate appropriate level chief/associate superintendent. If the employee is approved for telework, the employee's leave balances would be adjusted accordingly.

Home Test Kits for Employees

Why are schools offering employees diagnostic tests for COVID-19?

Diagnostic tests are used to identify current COVID-19 infection and should be used if you have any symptoms. Additional information about diagnostic testing can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, as well as the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) Interim Guidance and K-12 Testing in schools.

What is the difference between screening testing, pooled testing, and diagnostic testing?

Screening testing can help promptly identify and isolate cases, quarantine those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated and identify clusters. This can help reduce the risk to students, teachers, and staff, and controlling outbreaks before they expand can help limit any disruption to in-person education. Screening testing can also be used to help evaluate and adjust prevention strategies and provide added protection between staff and students. At any level of community transmission, screening testing should be offered to all teachers and staff who have not been fully vaccinated.

Pooled testing is a form of screening testing that may be used in schools. Pooled testing involves mixing several individuals’ test samples together into one “pool” and then testing the pooled sample for COVID-19. This approach increases the number of individuals that can be tested at one time and allows regular testing in the school for COVID-19.

Diagnostic testing is intended to identify current infection in individuals and should be performed on anyone that has signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Additional information about antigen testing used for diagnostic testing is available on the VDH website.

Who is eligible to receive a home test for COVID-19?
PWCS is collaborating with the Virginia Department of Health to provide free virtually guided, rapid antigen testing. PWCS will be provided with a limited number of home tests for COVID-19 from the Virginia Department of Health. Because of the limited availability of the tests, distribution will be prioritized as follows:
  • Employees with unexplained illness with COVID-19-like symptoms
  • Employees who have been quarantined AND are asymptomatic
What is the home test that is available?
PWCS will be provided with virtually guided, rapid antigen test kits. The home test is an antigen test that uses a nasal swab for sample collection and can return test results in about 15 minutes. The test kits given to PWCS have been authorized by the FDA.
Do I have to take the home test if I am exposed to a known case of COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms?
No, these tests are not mandated by PWCS.
What do I do if my Home Test is positive?
If a test is positive, the individual should:
  • Remain at home. Persons testing positive should be referred to their health care provider for appropriate follow-up care.
  • Follow PWCS guidance on reporting positive COVID test.
  • Monitor symptoms.
  • Answer the call from the local health department or VDH Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Team to identify possible close contacts and help prevent further transmission.
  • Follow guidance from case investigators for return to work/school.
I am vaccinated, do I need to be tested?
Regardless of vaccination status, employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested. Additionally, people who are fully vaccinated who are exposed to a person that is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, while not required to quarantine, should consult with their medical provider to get tested five days after exposure.
Who is paying for the Home Test kits?
Because PWCS is participating in the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program, there will be no costs associated with these diagnostic tests.

 

Notification Requirements

If you experience any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should immediately leave work (if applicable), notify your supervisor and the Benefits and Compensation Department at benefits@pwcs.edu or 703-791-8050, and seek medical guidance from a health care provider.