DeKalb teacher who’s been teaching from her child’s hospital bedside faces tough choice

DeKalb teacher who’s been teaching from her child’s hospital bedside faced with tough choice

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County is expecting its teachers to return to school buildings for the first time in nearly a year this week. However, for some teachers, that is not good news.

Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik spoke with one teacher who worries that being back in a building could expose her to COVID-19 and be devastating for her family.

Jasmine Casilla’s 6-year-old daughter has been in the hospital since November.

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“The day before her birthday, she was transferred into the ICU,” Casilla said. “Systemic lupus is the type of lupus she has.”

In the months since then, her daughter has been recovering at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Casilla has been teaching her classes remotely from her daughter’s bedside.

But this week, she said school leaders are expecting her to return to class.

“I do not qualify for FMLA. And I don’t qualify for ADA because it’s not my disability. It’s Isabella’s disability. I have no option.”

Casilla told Petchenik when she asked her principal for an accommodation, she got nowhere.

“For me not to get COVID and transfer it to my house would be the miracle,” she said.

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Casilla said her husband had to quit his job to take care of their other children and she can’t afford to lose her job and health insurance.

Casilla said she doesn’t qualify for FMLA because she hasn’t worked for the district long enough.

“The hardship is a hardship,” she said.

Petchenik reached out to a district spokesperson who said hardships end Tuesday.

“if an employee does not report to work, they are expected to complete a statement of leave. in cases where a staff member is awaiting a decision from the district about ADA or FMLA, leaders will use reasonable flexibility, as always, to work with staff.”

The district said that as of Jan. 12, approximately 533 teachers have ADA or FMLA requests pending. Teachers with pending requests still have to report on Wednesday.

While the district is bringing teachers back, students aren’t coming back just yet. DeKalb Schools are waiting for the positivity rate in the county to dip below the 10% mark. As of Tuesday, it’s at nearly 11%.

Teachers, drivers and staff scared to return to classrooms in DeKalb County on Wednesday