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Working parents concerned about back-to-school plans

Posted at 11:57 AM, Jul 08, 2020

Schools across the country are hammering out their back to school plans. Some are going straight to remote or online learning, while others are fully back in session with a digital option. Some school districts are even having students attend school just a few days a week, in shifts.

"Cincinnati Public Schools has made the announcement that it'll be a two days on, three days off [schedule] and then, they'll switch it up the next week," said Christian Davis, a working mom of six children.

Davis started the Facebook group "Cincinnati Parent Empowerment Network." Parents have been messaging each other constantly since they found out Cincinnati's back to school plan of putting kids in class two days a week. The two days change each week so students can attend school in shifts, according to their grade.

"I work in a local community college here, but now, the colleges have been closed but they plan on opening back up in August. However, we won't be on a two or three-day schedule like the K-12 schools. We'll be working five days a week," explained Davis.

Davis' job isn't one that would allow for working from home. She's not sure what her work schedule will look like and whether it will be able to accommodate her children's school schedule.

"These are unprecedented times, and everyone is kind of having to deal with these things right now," said Amber Clayton with the Society for Human Resources Management.

Clayton says employers will have to be flexible with employees who may be at the will of their child's return-to-school plan.

"A lot of people are going to be going through this, especially if employers have employees in multiple states. Some of those jurisdictions will have schools that will be completely online and there will be some that will have partial reopening where they'll go to school a couple days a week and then they actually have online learning," said Clayton.

Clayton says employees also need to start planning their schedules now and working with their employer to provide the best solution possible. Businesses also need to make sure they're being fair and equitable with each employee's varying situation.

"I think consistency is key so that if you allow people to telework, maybe you need to do so for other employees,” said Clayton.

"We would like to think our employers will be flexible, but a job is a job and they still need employees to show up and do their job despite the fact that we’re in a health crisis right now," said Davis.

Davis says her family is eligible to receive childcare assistance, but right now, she doesn't know any childcare facilities that will accommodate school-age children during the day on varying days of the week. She says some families have already been so impacted by the pandemic that the cost of making sure their children are at school and being able to secure a job that will accommodate them, is a serious concern.

"They're afraid that if their hours are going to get cut or if they have to find another job to accommodate this schedule, will they have enough money to afford the necessities their kids need during this time?" said Davis.

Clayton says right now the Families First Coronavirus Response Act does not take into account families' varying back-to-school situations, but she expects the Department of Labor will make adjustments soon to address parents' concerns.