Excerpted from Lexology by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

A significant challenge for reopening the economy and returning to “normalcy” during the COVID-19 pandemic is addressing whether, when, and how schools and colleges will open this fall. As with the initial shelter-in-place orders and mask requirements, these issues are being addressed differently in each state. Most state governors are foregoing a “one-size-fits-all” approach by authorizing each school district to decide whether to reopen fully partially reopen, or only allow online curriculums. School districts in high infection areas, such as metro-Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have already announced that public schools will not initially reopen for in-class learning in the fall, and will instead begin the semester with online learning. In other locations, political considerations are driving in-person learning but parents may not accept that their children and families will be safe, or they may be concerned that state or federal immunity laws may make the schools unaccountable for safety. Even the strongest advocates for in-person learning acknowledge that there will be local “flare-ups” of the virus that will drive temporary learning from home. In response to this uncertainty, employers should develop plans that address a variety of requests from their employees who have to balance work and child-care obligations caused by remote learning.

Nationwide, the vast majority of states encourage employers to allow telework whenever possible. Many employees are already working from home and have been for months. In school districts where remote learning will occur full or part-time, encouraging workers to continue working from home makes sense. This Legal Alert provides a summary of key considerations in developing remote work plans to accommodate different in-school arrangements. Attached to this Legal Alert is a summary of what major school districts are now planning for the fall semester.
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