Know Your Contract: When Do I Cover for an Absent Colleague?

The PAT Office has received numerous questions about whether or not members must cover class for an absent colleague. 

The answer is in Article 8, Section 7.1 which states:

“Every effort will be made to employ substitute teachers to cover classes of absent teachers. Except in true emergency situations and except as otherwise provided in 8.7.2, professional educators shall not be required to substitute for other professional educators.”

Our contract also states that educators shall receive daily planning periods in high school and middle school, and in elementary schools daily planning time and 320 minutes per week of planning time. Any member who is asked to cover class for an absent colleague should ask when the planning time will be made up that same day. If daily planning time is not provided, a member should submit for pay the minutes of lost planning time.

If you are asked to cover a class, and you are willing to volunteer that is fine. However, you must be paid for lost planning time if you do. If you do not want to cover the class, then you do not have to volunteer. Students must have a licensed adult directing a class, but that can be the building administrator. 

If you are directed to cover the class, inform your building rep and PAT will evaluate the situation to determine if a grievance should be filed.