Kilili: Parents need paid leave

Posted on Aug 24 2020

Remote learning may be the safest way to stop community spread but where does that leave working parents who need to work in order to pay their bills and provide for their family?

That is the question that Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) asked the Wage and Hour Division under the U.S. Department of Labor, when he asked the division to provide clarity on emergency paid leave eligibility for parents of children attending school this fall.

In a previous Board of Education meeting, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said that a Public School System survey showed that half of the 2,000 parents who responded to the survey are anxious about sending their children back to school for the upcoming semester.

Sablan said the WHD should modernize the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCRA, to make it clear that schools that use hybrid models and offer optional virtual learning are considered “closed,” in order to accommodate the goals of paid leave under FFCRA and WHD’s existing guidance.

Citing the WHD’s guidance on the FFCRA, Sablan wrote that a school is considered “closed” for the purpose of FFCRA emergency leave, “even if “some or all instruction is being provided online or whether, through another format such as ‘distance learning,’ your child is still expected or required to complete assignments.”

“No doubt the WHD has faced challenges to responding to the pandemic, but time is of the essence. We urge you to quickly update your guidance to provide this much-needed clarity for working parents,” said Sablan.

Under the FFCRA, which took effect last April 1, eligible parents can expect two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks (10 of which are paid) of emergency Family and Medical Leave Act in order to tend to their child(ren) whose school is closed due to the coronavirus.

In the case of PSS, it has decided to do full 100%, remote learning, but still bringing in students who need “one-to-one interaction”—estimated at about 10% of PSS students who need additional help and are required to be in the classroom for a couple of hours on a daily basis. Each classroom will have 10 students or fewer.

This effectively means that PSS will have a combination of face-to-face and online learning, which is a hybrid learning.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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