We have received questions about teachers, school openings and workers’ compensation in light of the Coronavirus. Many teachers are worried about returning to the classroom. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available if teachers get sick in the classroom.
Reopening of Schools for 2020-2021 School Year
In Washington State, Governor Inslee is leaving the decision of when and how to reopen schools to the districts to decide. “We’ve got to give the districts some time to really to think about what works for them rather than dictating to them a one-size-fits-all solution,” Inslee said.
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Juneau is recommending to the School Board that Seattle Public Schools start the 2020-21 school year remotely. They would follow the remote instruction model until the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction. The School Board will vote on Superintendent Juneau’s recommendation and an associated plan for Fall 2020 on August 12.
WEA Demands Safety First
The Washington Education Association (WEA) has written that safety must come first in any plans to return to school in the fall. WEA is calling for the 2020-21 school year to begin with distance learning and virtual instruction.
Teachers, School Openings and Workers’ Compensation
Governor Inslee announced workers’ compensation coverage for quarantined health workers/first responders on March 5, 2020. The expanded coverage takes effect immediately and covers eligible workers already under quarantine. There is a presumption that, if these workers come down with COVID-19, their exposure was related to their work activities and that workers’ compensation benefits are due.
Teachers, as well as other workers that might be considered essential, do not have a presumption of coverage at this time. However, workers’ compensation claims have and should be filed if workers come down with COVID-19. The Department of Labor and Industries has acknowledged processing claims filed for COVID-19.
Workers’ compensation coverage can include medical testing, cover treatment expenses if a worker becomes ill or injured and provide time-loss payments for those who cannot work if they are sick or quarantined. A claim can also include benefits for permanent impairment or should death occur due to the virus.
Our suggestion to those that are diagnosed with COVID-19, and believe that they were exposed to the Coronavirus on the job, including teachers as well as other workers, is to file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries. Workers can file a workers’ compensation claim up to two years after being exposed to a disease at work.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
A claim can be:
- Filed online
- By phone: 1-877-561-FILE (3453)
- Through your doctor’s office
As with any claim decision, the Department of Labor and Industries will issue an Order and Notice stating whether your claim is allowed or denied. You will have sixty (60) days within which to file a written protest or appeal if you disagree with the decision. A protest can be faxed, mailed or submitted to the Department online. If no protest or appeal is filed within 60 days from the date you received the order, the decision becomes final and binding on all parties.
If you have any questions, either before filing a claim or if a claim should be denied, please feel free to contact our firm for assistance. We offer a free case analysis, and would be happy to discuss the circumstances you are facing with you.