SEA Substitutes FAQ (COVID-19 Period)

This page is for posting FAQ's specific to SEA Substitutes during the COVID-19 closures.

Sub FAQs and Resources

We are approaching two months into the shutdown. This has been hard on everyone - particularly substitutes. Nobody knows for certain when the shelter-in-place will end and when our kids will be back in the classroom. We do know though that our Sub Association is united and still working and advocating for all union members. We have all the protections we’ve negotiated over the years and they’re guaranteed in our CBA and we continue to address issues as they arise during this unprecedented crisis.

We will be updating these FAQs and Resources as more information becomes available. 

Peter Henry, President, Seattle Substitutes Association

Will I be compensated by SPS?
Subs who are being compensated by SPS have already been notified. 

(1) If you are in a ‘staffed’ long-term (45+ day) position that started before the shutdown, you are compensated for the duration of this position, at your contracted rate.
(2) If you qualified for SEBB in the fall and you also worked 200+ hours this school year, you will be compensated for the duration of the school year, based on your average daily hours worked (total hours divided by 115 days until closure).

What should I do if I’m not getting compensated by SPS?
If you are not compensated by SPS, apply for Unemployment Insurance if you haven’t already done so.

Here are some references and resources to guide you through the process:

ESD website:

You can sign up for the webinar or download the slides and view on your own:

What if I applied for unemployment benefits and was denied?
If you were denied you should continue to file weekly claims.

If you were denied because you didn’t meet the work requirements, you should have received an email from
SD with a link. You will be directed to apply first for regular unemployment, and if you don’t qualify, you will be
directed to apply to PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance).

If you didn’t get the email, you can try calling the ESD at 8 AM (though phone lines are often jammed)

If you were rejected it’s best to file an appeal which you can do on the website:

If you have other questions, try contacting the Unemployment Law Project:

Will unemployment benefits be retroactive?
Yes, unemployment insurance will be retroactive to March 12, when schools first closed. The additional $600/week payment may be retroactive only to March 29.

Visit the Employment Security Department website for more information.

And visit Unemployment Law Project website. ULP is a non-profit organization that offers free phone advice on unemployment and will represent you during an appeal. There is a $300 fee but only if you win.

They have webinars every Monday at noon. 

What about the summer?
We don’t know if unemployment insurance will be available over the summer. The general rule is if there’s a “reasonable assurance” that you will have employment after a scheduled break, you are not eligible. However with COVID-19, nobody knows. Unemployment insurance may - or may not - be available over the summer, so it would be a good idea to apply if you aren’t already receiving UI, and to continue your claims over the summer.

I’m getting a small amount of compensation from SPS. Can I also file?
You can certainly apply, because this might be similar to someone with a job getting their hours cut. There’s no guarantee
you will get approved though. It may depend on your work history and on your compensation.

When can I expect to start receiving unemployment benefits checks?
It may take some time if you have just applied, but some people who applied the weekend of April 18 have already started receiving money. Most people who applied prior to April 18 should already be receiving money.

My family and I are not covered by SEBB health insurance. What support is there?
The Washington Health Benefits Exchange is offering a COVID-19 special enrollment period through May 8. Many people may be eligible for lower premiums and to change plans. Those who have not been able to afford coverage may now be able to do so. The additional $600/week “is not income for purposes of eligibility for either Medicaid (Apple Care) or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).” There is no deadline to apply for Apple Care.

What other support is available?
Several substitutes have received grants from the Foundation for Working Families. Here’s the application:

The Puget Sound Labor Agency runs a food bank and has a few other services for union members.

The SEA has a community resource page here:

I’m being compensated by the district. What are my work expectations?
Currently, none have been addressed, though this may change.

I’m not being compensated by the district. Are there any opportunities for paid work?
Currently the district does not have plans to make use of substitutes.

How can I find more information?
Fellow subs are a great resource! Please join the Substitutes Association Facebook group:

If you are not receiving Substitutes Association “MailChimp” emails please send your current home email to