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As Olivia gets closer, know your rights

Your questions about leave, damage to your classroom and more are answered

Because of the threat of Hurricane Olivia, HSTA would like to provide members additional information specific to their contractual rights for emergencies such as a hurricane.  

Watch this HSTA Facebook Live answering teachers' storm-related questions. 

Q: Do I have to report to work when schools are closed? 

A: Unlike other school districts around the country, the HSTA contract has very strong provisions related to health and safety. This is especially true when students are sent home and/or schools are closed. The contract states: “Teachers shall not be required to work under unsafe or hazardous conditions or to perform tasks which imminently endanger their health or safety.” In addition, “When students are sent home from school or are not required to attend due to emergencies which endanger health or safety, teachers will not be required to remain at, nor report to, said schools.” 

Q: Do I get paid when I am told not to report to work? 

A: Yes

Q: Is there anything I should plan for related to my classroom during a school closure? 

A: It is possible that in an emergency such as a hurricane that your school campus is designated an evacuation shelter and your classroom could be used by evacuees. As such, if you have work equipment and items of value in your classroom, they should be locked up.  HSTA recommends if you have personal items of value that you take them home. 

Q: I heard that the DOE could extend the school year because of these closures, is that true? 

A: Yes, but the HSTA contract allows for a limit of 190 work days, which are already scheduled in the current calendar. Any extension to the work year for 10-month employees would have to be negotiated with the HSTA. Teachers would need to receive additional compensation for additional days of work. 

Q: How am I supposed to know what is going on with my school and when we report back? 

A: Every school should have an extensive emergency plan and, more important, a school communication procedure such as a phone tree to communicate with employees. If you are not aware of your school’s plan, please contact your administration right away. It is also important to make sure your contact information, such phone and emergency contacts, is updated with your school on a regular basis.

In addition, the Department of Education will push out information on social media and its website. Charter school closures and announcements are often posted on school webpages and/or on the Charter Commission website.   

Q: What should I do if my classroom is damaged by the storm? 

A: You should immediately inform the administration of any damage to include not only furniture and equipment but also items such as books and supplies so they are aware for any claims that need to be filed because of the damage. 

Q: What if my personal property/home is damaged and I need to take leave? 

A: You may request up to six (6) days of personal leave, which counts against your sick leave. If you need additional days, you may also apply for leave without pay.  

Q: I was scheduled to take leave (sick, personal or vacation), but the schools are closed because of the storm. Can I cancel my leave and get my leave back? 

A: Generally the policy of the DOE is that you will not be able to cancel your leave after the announcement has been made for the closure. You will remain on approved sick, personal or vacation leave. If you cancelled prior to the announced closure, then you should have no problem with cancellation.

Watch this HSTA Facebook Live answering teachers' storm-related questions. 


Here is more information about the DOE's leave policy.

Read this personal leave flier from HSTA.

Read the DOE's hurricane guidelines issued June 1.

If you have further questions regarding any of the above, please contact info@hsta.org. We will do our best to respond to your questions as soon as possible. 

The safety of you and your loved ones is our top priority and we encourage you to take all necessary precautions to remain safe during the storm.

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Author: Keoki Kerr
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