District spokesman Ian Smith said common reasons for APS denying telework requests were because the employee did not include the appropriate documentation or because they were not eligible. For example, childcare issues and an employee’s personal comfort level with returning to the workplace during the pandemic do not meet the criteria for teleworking.
Smith said schools will be appropriately staffed when they reopen.
“The overall percentage of staff returning is more than adequate for the overall percentage of students returning. In addition, we continue to work with each individual school in support of their plans to ensure that any scheduling issues are identified and proactively resolved,” he said in an email.
Metro Atlanta districts that reopened buildings before APS have had difficulty finding enough substitute teachers to cover classes.
Those eligible for telework include employees who are required to quarantine, who can’t work because of “a bona fide need” to care for another person who is quarantining, or because the employee is considered at high risk for COVID-19 infection, according to APS documents.
The district employs more than 6,000 people. Across the entire system, 926 employees in all positions requested telework. Half have been approved. For the remaining half, 218 requests were denied— including the 145 requests from teachers— and 249 requests were still pending as of Jan. 7.
Employees had to submit telework requests before Jan. 4.