October 05, 2020 NYS Department of Health Declares School Staff are not “Essential Workers”
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to advise you that on October 1, 2020, the New York State Department of Health (the “DOH”) issued a “Pre-K to Gr 12 COVID-19 Toolkit” dated September 2020 (attached). The toolkit contains flowcharts covering the following topics:
- “Can My Child Go To School Today?”
- “My child has COVID-19 symptoms. When can they go back to school?”
- “Can I Go to Work at the School Today?”
- “I have COVID-19 symptoms. When can I go back to work at the school?”
- “COVID-19 Screening Flowsheet for Students and Staff”
- “COVID-19 Screening Flowsheet for Students or Staff with COVID-19 Symptoms”
- “COVID-19 exclusion protocol for contacts of symptomatic students and staff”
- “COVID-19 School and Local Health Department Coordination for Contact Tracing”
Notably, and without any prior notification, the DOH has stated in the staff-related flowcharts that, “School staff are not essential workers and must quarantine.” Prior to this publication, the State’s definition of “essential workers” was arguably broad enough to include certain types of school staff (e.g., educators, security staff; etc.). In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum on August 18, 2020 declaring that, among other types of workers, “essential critical infrastructure workers” included many categories of employees in the education field.
Unless and until additional guidance is issued resolving the conflicting information on the State and federal levels, we recommend that you treat all school staff as non-essential workers and require them to complete quarantine/isolation periods, where appropriate or necessary.
If you have any questions regarding the above, or would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please contact Alyssa Zuckerman or one of our other attorneys by calling (631) 694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
Attorney Advertising: Prior Results Do Not Guarantee A Similar Outcome.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2020
 The titles are written as they appear in the original document.
 Underlining added; bold in the original.