With new school year, employer support is key

We may have gotten used to the new normal, but working parents still need understanding

With new school year, employer support is key

The kids are going back to school.

While officially kids were still registered at school once the lockdowns happened in March, the final few months of the school year were just not the same. Many students were told their marks could not go lower, only higher, from what they already were so many students decided to start summer early, not concerned about raising their marks or putting in too much effort.

And that’s understandable. With a daunting pandemic sweeping across the globe, and the bumpy, unfamiliar experience of online learning, it was hard for many kids to get motivated.

But now we’re starting a whole new year and this time it’s more serious. We now know this virus is going to continue to challenge society and the economy for a good long time, so we can’t put off or shrug off schooling. We have to try something, and hopefully it’ll go well, despite the hurdles.

For many working parents, it’s not going to be easy, to say the least. So much of the schooling is new this time round -- new teachers, new ways of learning, new restrictions, new classes – so students will be facing new pressures and processes, making remote work for parents even more of a challenge as they try to support their children.

Even parents working outside the home will likely have a tough time, as their children cope with the new reality and some older ones will attend school through a hybrid model, where they’re only at school a few hours of the week and learning from home most of the time. Previously parents could rely on their kids being taken care of for much of the day.

A September survey found that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of parents were concerned about their own anxiety if their child was expected to go to school in September, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

And nearly half of men and women say that they are unable to focus on work while their kids are home, according to a survey by LinkedIn. To cope, many parents are working outside their normal business hours or working fewer hours to provide childcare.

Many employers were more than accommodating when COVID-19 first hit and parents suddenly found themselves working alongside their children at home. They allowed for alternate hours, disrupted workdays and distracted parents.

Let’s hope that flexibility continues with the new school year. While restrictions might have loosened as the economy reopens, parents are still facing quite a burden, particularly those with younger children, and they’ll need employer understanding more than ever.

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