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As kids head back to school, employers should be flexible with working parents

kids masks classroom school children
Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 28, 2021

Your employer will need to be flexible this year. That's the word from pediatricians as the school year draws near.

There are concerns about the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which could mean more time at home for both kids and their parents.

“The question is, if you’re vaccinated and if you’re exposed, do you need to quarantine at home or can you go back to work? And it’s going to depend on your work,” said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a Los Angeles area Pediatrician, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She says, the good news is, we know more now than we did at the start of the pandemic.

“We know that school environments are so well controlled and contained that if kids are masked, if there’s a little bit of distance between them, things are wiped down and disinfected, and schools do everything right, we actually aren’t seeing that much transmission amongst kids at school.”

This means, your school is likely to remain open. Dr. Altmann says most districts are doing their best to try and not quarantine kids unless they have to.

“What we saw last year is when there was a case, we sent everyone home but no one else got it. Overall goal this year is everyone in school and as much as possible while keeping things as safe as we can.”

She says, most of the COVID-19 cases right now are from the delta variant, but regardless of the strain, it doesn't change the reaction, or the treatment.

The concern, she says, is for the unvaccinated.

“If you’re exposed and vaccinated you don’t have to quarantine, but because of delta, a lot of workplaces are being more cautious and may not want you there anyway. But if you’re symptomatic, no matter what, you have to stay home and isolate.”

And that means, your employer will need to work with you.

“Employers had to deal with this last year at the height of the pandemic when employees were exposed to COVID at that particular time, so there’s likely policies and procedures already in place.”

Amber Clayton is the Director of the Knowledge Center within SHRM, or The Society For Human Resource Management. COVID-19, she says, is still a trending topic.

“Employers should be proactive and prepared and think about those what-ifs as they return employees back to work again," Clayton said.

Businesses will need to pay attention to state and federal laws and make sure those safety measures are enacted.

“There are many employers that can’t go fully remote, but those who can, and recognize their employees and business could be just as successful and productive working from home fully, will likely go back to that should there be a situation where we need to lockdown again.”

Dr. Altmann says we all need to be more cautious because of the delta variant.

“You cannot be out and about in society right now with a cold, that’s just the way it is, the schools are going to have a very strict policy, we can’t have all these other things being transmitted right now because it gets confusing.”

The bottom line she says, get the vaccine, and if you have symptoms of any kind you and your children will need to stay home.