GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- Some Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers say they are scared of going back into the classroom, especially when their students are attending virtually.
Fifth grade teacher Ashley Noel Newman says she felt she had no other option but to quit after her work from home request and leave request were denied.
Newman handed in her resignation Monday morning. She is also the person behind a petition requesting the school district give educators the option to work from home while virtual learning is in place for students. So far, there are more than 2,800 signatures.
She says that other educators are in the same boat as they have to choose between taking care of their own kids, or worrying about their own health versus keeping their job.
It's a decision Newman says educators shouldn't have to make during this pandemic.
"We all want to be back in the building, but it's not safe yet. And until it's safe, no one should have to be expected to be in the building. If the students can complete all of their work digitally then teachers should as well," said Newman.
CBS46 reached out to GCPS and asked specifically about educators' work from home requests and if any are being granted. A spokesperson responded with the following:
If an educator has a concern, they should talk to their principal first and then to Human Resources (HR). The information below is what HR is advising those who inquire.
• If proximity to others is a concern, it may be that an alternative workspace could be secured. The teacher should talk to their principal. They may be allowed to work in an area of the school that is not being utilized (computer lab, gymnasium, theater, etc.).
• If a teacher’s doctor is advising that he/she quarantine, given health concerns and existing medical conditions, he/she may be eligible to receive up to 10 days of fully-paid leave, without having to use district sick leave.
• If the teacher is not being advised to quarantine, he/she can still take up to 10 days of leave without having to apply for a Leave of Absence. If the employee chooses to do this, he/she would just let his/her principal know of the dates of the absence, and enter the sick time through the employee portal.
• To stay out after 10 days, the employee would have to apply for a Leave of Absence. She/he would need to complete an FMLA request form, and have medical certification paperwork completed by a physician. The employee could receive up to 12 weeks of job protected leave. The leave would be paid for as long as the employee has accrued sick leave that could be applied.
• If the employee’s daycare center is closed due to COVID19, there are provisions for leave at two-thirds pay under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.
• If the employee has school-aged kids, those children may go to school with their parents.