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Back to School and Talking to Your Kids About What to Expect

With the start of the school year comes new challenges and new emotions. As the world continues to move forward in a pandemic we must protect the mental, emotional, and physical health for ourselves and our children. Here are practical things to help you adjust to your kids going back to school.

• Assess the Risk Your family’s situation is unique and involves different health needs from other families. Many school districts are aware of this and are offering multiple models for education: Traditional, Hybrid, and Virtual. Its up to you to decide which model will meet the mental, emotional, and physical needs for your family. Use this Decision Making Tool provided by the CDC to help you come to a conclusion.

• Normalize the Situation Children look to adults for security and stability. If the adults are panicked or afraid the children will follow suit. Ask your kids what they are feeling or their thoughts on returning to school and begin to address their concerns. Let them know what to expect should they return to school. Tell them their will be temperature checks, wearing masks, washing hands, and spacing out in the classroom, and that they may not be able to play at recess like they used to. The more you talk about this the easier the transition will be.

• Get the Right Gear Back to school shopping is always one the biggest highlights for students. Though this year’s supply lists may look a little different, the experience doesn’t have to be. Whether distance learning or being back in the classroom, students are going to need the right gear to make them feel prepared for school. Clothing and backpacks are falling wayside to electronics and PPE. Look at your school’s recommendations and have fun with the items.

• Pay Attention All humans are good at masking emotions, however when we do it too long, it breaks us down and it leaks out in many different ways. As parents and management it is your responsibility to pay close attention to the people in your care. A good rule of thumb is to get curious not furious. Are you noticing different moods, behaviors, or sleep patterns? There is something underneath the surface and its our job to pull it out in a nurturing way.

FAQ Employer Back to School Guide

What should employers be doing right now to get prepared for the school year? —Employers should proactively communi-cate with employees and determine what adjustments might need to be made. Additionally, we recommend employers revisit their leave policies and forms for requesting and approving leave to ensure they are up to date.

What leave is available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to assist parents whose kids are not physically in school? —Employers with less than 500 employees must allow employees up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave if they are unable to work (or telework) because their child’s school or childcare has been closed due Covid-19 and they must provide care for a child. Employees with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from these FFCRA requirements if providing employees such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. To qualify employees must have worked at least 30 days and have children under the age of 18. The first 2 weeks can be unpaid or substituted with any accrued paid time off, the remaining 10 weeks must be paid at a rate of at least 2/3 of employee’s regular pay (not to exceed $200/day and $10,000 in the aggregate).

Is the leave available if a child’s school is not “closed” but online? —Yes. If the physical location where the child would receive instruction/care is closed due to Covid-19. This is true even is distance learning is taking place.

Does the FFCRA allow for hybrid model where some learning is home-based and some is in-person? —Under FFCRA, intermittent leave may only be taken if the employer allows it. In such cases, the employee and employer should agree upon an intermittent leave schedule in advance. If the employer has a history of allowing intermittent leave in other situations, denying this leave for parents without a good business reason may be construed as interference with protected leave under FFCRA.

Does the FFCRA allow for an employee who decides to home-school their child, even though the child’s school is open? —If the school is open, the employee would not be eligible for leave under the FFCRA to home-school their child. The Department of Labor has stated that FFCRA leave is not available if a co-parent, co-guardian, or the usual child care provider is available to provide care for the child’s needs.

Some schools offer parents to choose separate models, is a parent elects home-based learning rather than in person learning, is FFCRA leave available? —The Department of Labor has not yet provided a clear answer on whether a school would be considered “closed” under these circumstances. Employers should be cautious about denying FFCRA leave under this scenario. Alt-hough there is a technical argument for stating school is not “closed,” the broad intent of the FFCRA appears to allow leave for parents who are needing time off while schools are dealing with Covid-19.

What if the employee has already exhausted some or all of the Emergency Paid FMLA leave? —If the employee has only used some of their leave earlier this year they are allowed to use the remainder of their paid leave through December 31, 2020. If the employee has exhausted the full amount for this year, they are not entitled to any additional time under FFCRA, however they may be entitled under other state laws or company policies.

Contact us with for support.

At Firm Foundation we are called to serve churches, not for profits, small business owners, and their employees. Our team is at the ready to assist. We are diligently tracking the new State and Federal updates as it pertains to our clients and their employees. Please reach out to us should you have questions or need assistance. We are in this together!

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