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School Reopening Decisions Poised to Impact Small Business Workforce

  • Employees at small businesses may be eligible to seek leave if schools offer virtual classes for all or part of the fall semester
  • Parents may struggle with child care options if they have already used up available FFCRA leave
  • In Connecticut, reopening decisions are being left up to individual districts

With many schools set to resume courses in August, small business owners should be prepared for the possibility that their workers will seek leave if their child’s school district plans another semester of online only classes.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which went into effect on April 1, allows employees at companies with more than 50 employees and less than 500 employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their children if they lost child care due to schools or day care facilities shutting down. Eligible employees have until December 31 to use this time off, unless the benefit is extended by Congress.

Employees are not eligible to use FFCRA leave time if their child’s school opens for in-person learning. If they still have FFCRA leave available, a parent can choose to use it if the school district opts for online learning for part or all of the fall semester. Parents who have used up their FFCRA leave may need to work out a modified schedule with their employer or take a furlough.

In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont has voiced his support for a return to in-person learning. However, earlier this week he announced that the decision on whether to reopen for this type of education would be left up to school districts.

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