Just in time for fall school schedules, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently added three new FAQs on whether employees are entitled to take paid leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) as schools reopen for in-person or virtual instruction.
These new FFCRA FAQs (#98-#100) clarify that if the school is open for in-person instruction, or if families have the option to have their children present in the school for instruction, the school isn’t “closed” for purposes of the FFCRA. The facility must be physically closed in order for parents to have FFCRA leave rights. Conversely, if there’s no option for the student to return in person and remote attendance is the only available option, then the FFCRA applies.
Additionally, FAQ #100 addresses the situation of a school starting up with remote learning due to COVID-19 concerns, with the potential to re-open later in the school year. In that case, FFCRA coverage would end once the school re-opens for students to attend in person. Finally, some schools are using a “hybrid” approach in which students spend some days in person at the school and other days in remote learning. In that case, FFCRA leave would only be available on the days when students aren’t permitted to come to the school and are attending school virtually. Under these circumstances, an employee could take FFCRA leave intermittently on the days when the child is unable to attend in person. These clarifications are also contained in a recent news release from the DOL.