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Geronda Wollack | 9/11/2020

During a phone call with my favorite sister (now, let's not share this with anyone else), she shared the following sentiment with me, "I was just as excited for my kids to go back to school this year, until I realized that I have one kid staying home and doing virtual learning and the other kid going to school on a hybrid schedule. Welp, my stress level just went up! How am I supposed to go to work?!" 

I hear common themes from Practices around the stress some of their staff faces as kids go "back to school." I put back to school in quotes because, for many, it feels far from that. Staff members are requesting to stay home to assist their children with virtual learning, or one child has a hybrid schedule while another has moved to complete virtual. The challenges with back to school are a transitional period of accepting that school this year will not feel the same is the new normal. 

Back to school is often one of the most stressful times for many. Especially during a time when you need to keep your business running, help patients, and keep generating revenue. While these requests for virtual learning support may seem stressful, how you treat your staff will significantly impact your staff. The goal is to do what is best for your staff during this stressful time. You can do this by accepting requests to support their children with any school needs, as applicable. At IDOC, there is a level of flexibility when it comes to back to school, and we are so appreciative of that. 

That's where Families First Coronavirus Response Act comes into play, which employers can provide to employees with paid sick leave (Emergency Paid Sick Leave) and expanded family and medical leave Emergency Family Medical Leave) for specific reasons related to COVID. For information on this leave, please visit the Human Resources section of IDOC's COVID Resource Page, here -

Here's what you need to know regarding the eligibility of leave when it comes to Back to School and Families First –

 Hybrid Learning 

  • Employees would be eligible for FFCRA on days when the employee's child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead in engage in remove learning

 Parent's Choice 

  • If the school gives the parent the option to keep their child at home or send their child in for in-person instruction and the parent chooses to keep their child at home, the employees' request for FFCRA leave can be denied. The only exception would be if the employee's child would be immunocompromised. If not, then you can choose to deny the request for FFCRA leave.

 School May Reopen Later

  • Employees would be eligible for FFCRA leave on school days with the child is engaged in remote learning. However, if the school later transitions to exclusively in-person instruction, FFCRA leave will not be available. 

 If the employee requests leave, you must gain documentation of the school decision and save this in the employee file.

I shared this information with my sister, and she was able to go to her employer to request leave to support her kids through back to school. The sigh of relief in her voice was so nice to hear, just knowing that she does not have to worry and that her employer has her back. She even told me, "my employer was so concerned about my wellbeing during back to school and any other concerns. I would recommend them to anyone!"

 Always think about what is best for your employees because how you treat them will greatly impact the Practice. Also, always remember, you will make it through this challenging time, we always do. 

Stay safe, strong, and healthy out there!

Geronda Wollack
HR Services Advisor
Geronda Wollack has a background in HR project/program management in the IT and Education space. She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from Johnson & Wales University and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational from the University of New Haven. Upon graduating, she started her Human Resources career at Gartner, where she spent approximately 3 years managing HR projects and programs from inception to delivery.

During her time at Success Academy Charter Schools, Geronda developed, facilitated and analyzed trainings for 50+ staff on leadership effectiveness and diversity. Geronda is experienced in areas of performance management practices, training and facilitation, process improvement, diversity and inclusion, and onboarding, to name a few.

A fun fact about Geronda is that she worked as a Cake Decorator for 2 years where she once baked a 7-tier cake that included edible diamonds. She was also the only female to play football on an all-boys team from 7th grade to 12th grade. Lastly, outside of work, Geronda loves to go camping (and be in nature in general), attend jazz shows and sporting events, attend festivals, cook, and play her trumpet.
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