When COVID-19 shut down the nation's schools this spring, many parents, teachers, and professionals assumed it would be temporary. By the fall, everyone reasoned, we'd have figured out the right way to beat back the pandemic and get life back on track again. However, school districts are reopening with staggered or simply fully online classes for all grade levels, and it's throwing workplaces into disarray.
USA Today spoke with a number of parents and professionals worried about the tension between caring for their children, running a business, and keeping their jobs altogether. Productivity is way down even for workers who aren't looking after kids; surveys show that while childless employees understand the stress of providing for children at home, they also feel that they're shouldering the burden of the extra work parents can't take on. About two-thirds of companies "say they are not planning or considering altering performance expectations or career development and promotion processes for workers dealing with child care issues," per USA Today.
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Even before the pandemic, childcare costs tended to be one of a family's biggest line items. Workplace support for parents is also wildly uneven, both on the job and in the hiring process. (The salary parents could demand for their skills alone is impressive on any resume.) Unfortunately, mothers are more likely to drop out of the work force than fathers, like the 1 in 3 unemployed millennial mothers who have done so over this summer. Don't expect a post-COVID baby boom either — if anything, this crisis has shown more clearly than ever the need for new ideas about how parents can get the support they need at home and at work.