Information on Evacuation Option for DoDEA Employees in Foreign Areas

posted April 3, 2020

As you likely know by now, the Department of State has approved an Authorized Departure (AD) from foreign areas that includes DoDEA personnel in Overseas locations and/or eligible family members (EFMs) who believe themselves to be at "higher risk of poor outcome" if exposed to COVID-19.

This policy has created many questions, for which FEA is urging DoDEA management to quickly provide answers.

Under the order, DoDEA employees who evacuate from their current Overseas location would be reassigned to Arlington, Virginia. Those educators would be required to resume online teaching of their students after they have relocated to their "safe haven" in Arlington. Eligible Family Members may remain with the sponsoring employee or be relocated to anyplace within the United States.

The determination for who is a "higher risk" is apparently being left to each eligible employee to self-assess, though the announcement memo from DoDEA specifically cites "older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions" as possibly being at higher risk. Employees are referred to the Centers for Disease control site for more information on who may be at higher risk, go here to see that info from the CDC.

Those who evacuate would be relocated for as long as the Authorization Order remains in place; it is not possible to change your mind later and return to your duty post prior to the AD being lifted.

The "Evacuation Allowances and Filing Instructions" issued by DoDEA provide some information to help employees in their decision making. Among the most important,
Salary would continue during time of evacuation
If an employee remains overseas but Eligible Family Members depart, the employee's Post Allowance would be reduced to the "without family" rate; LQA would be continued at the "with family" rate for up to six months; any post differential or danger pay would continue
If both the employee and family evacuate under the Departure Order the employee's Post Allowance would be terminated; LQA would be terminated unless the employee is required to maintain and pay for quarters at the post or unless lease termination is impossible or impracticable; any post differential or danger pay would be terminated as well
Personally Owned Vehicles will NOT be shipped at government expense
Employees may voucher for reimbursement of eligible expenses every 30 days

However, a great many questions remain unanswered by the information put out by DoDEA, such as:
Most of the United States -- including Virginia, where DoDEA employees would be assigned when evacuated -- are currently under travel restrictions, "shelter in place" or other restrictive orders. In many locations, most restaurants, stores and public facilities are closed and there are growing shortages for basic staples such as eggs, toilet paper and cleaning products. How will DoDEA make sure its employees are well informed of these situations before making a decision about possible evacuation?
Since POVs will not be shipped, will the government pay to store them?
Will very specific instructions be provided for how to continue LQA in cases where terminating a lease is not possible or practicable?
Will evacuated educators be provided with adequate IT support? Will internet access be paid for/reimbursed for evacuees staying at a hotel or long-term stay?
How quickly will evacuees' vouchers be processed and paid?
Is there a limit on the number of people who can exercise this evacuation authority?

FEA has already brought these and other questions to DoDEA and is urging them to quickly post additional information so that employees can be fully informed.

FEA has also requested that DoDEA distribute a designated email address to receive questions from employees about the evacuation option.

Below are links to the documents DoDEA has put out, explaining the evacuation option and providing some information on allowances and other issues for those considering evacuation, as of April 1.

DoDEA Memo on Authorized Departure for Employees Assigned in Foreign Area

DoDEA's Evacuation Instructions

DoDEA's Evacuation Allowance and Filing Instructions

In order to request evacuation, employees assigned to foreign areas must complete and submit to DoDEA the application form, available from DoDEA. See the above-referenced Evacuation Instructions document for information on where to send your completed form.