Updates as of September 18, 2020

With schools reopening in different ways, unemployment claimants may no longer have to be home to ensure that their children are safe or can continue their education. Under regular unemployment compensation, claimants cannot continue to receive benefits if they are forced to stay home to care for their children. However, the federal Department of Labor has provided guidance to all unemployment agencies on how to work with this new issue for most unemployment claimants to continue receiving their benefits under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Can I still receive my unemployment benefits if my child’s school is open, but is only providing virtual/online teaching?

  • If you are receiving your unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund you may still qualify for your benefits as long as you are the only person providing care for your child or children and caring for your children keeps you from working. A school or facility that is only offering online teaching or a virtual learning program is considered to be closed for the purposes of the CARES act.
  • If you are receiving unemployment benefits under another unemployment program, such as regular unemployment compensation, you may need to be switched to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in order to continue receiving your unemployment benefits.

Can I still receive my unemployment benefits while my child’s school is only offering virtual/ online teaching, but I am also teleworking at home?

You may not continue receiving unemployment benefits if you are able to telework at home despite your child’s school only offering virtual/online learning.

The only exception to this rule is if your child’s virtual learning is affecting your ability to telework causing reduced hours or keeping you from teleworking all together. Any earnings you have made each week must be reported to the Louisiana Workforce Commission in your weekly claim certifications.

My child’s school is only open on certain days of the week and the rest of the days the school only offers virtual/online learning for my child (commonly known as the Hybrid Model).  Can I still receive my unemployment benefits?

You may qualify for your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as long as you are the only person providing care for your child or children and such child care is required for you to continue working. A school or facility that is only offering a hybrid model of teaching is considered to be closed for the purposes of the CARES act.

However, you cannot receive any benefits if you are teleworking from home or you are receiving any form of paid leave from your former or current employer.

My child’s school is offering two options for my child’s school’s learning. The options are for them to attend school virtually full time or for them attend school in person full time. I have chosen for my child to attend school virtually full time. Can I still receive my benefits?  

If your child’s school is giving you the option as to what method you want your child to attend and you have chosen for them to do virtual learning you cannot receive your unemployment benefits if that keeps you from being able and available to work.

Schools offering two options to parents are not considered to be closed for the purpose of the CARES Act and those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. There may be a few exceptions to this rule, but each case is different based on one’s individual circumstances.

Some exceptions to his rule may be:

  • Your child’s school completely recloses all in-person learning options after attempting to physically reopen for the school year.
  • Your child or another member of your household has become sick with COVID-19 and you must care for them.
  • You have become sick with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms and are seeking medical attention.
  • You have been told to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 related concerns.
  • Other reasons may apply, but each case is different as LWC should review each claimant’s application individually based on their own circumstances.

If you have any concerns or are having problems with your unemployment benefits you can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information. You may also review the federal guidelines for more information by clicking here.

 

 

Current as of August 17, 2020

Schools across Louisiana have begun to re-open or are scheduled to start in a few weeks. Each parish has its own reopening plan, which may include in-person or virtual classes, or a mix of both. It is important to check the reopening plan for your parish. Information on the reopening plans for the parishes our office serves can be found here. Within the parish plan, many schools will be making their own decisions about many things that can affect students’ health. What the students are exposed to is likely to affect others they live with.

The issues below can also apply to daycare or after-school programs.

This is information only, NOT legal advice. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services is not currently providing legal assistance on these issues. If you need legal advice, you should talk to an attorney. You may be able to get assistance from one of the organizations listed in this article.

What are some examples of unsafe conditions at schools during the coronavirus pandemic?

Because of COVID-19, many common school activities are now unsafe. They may now spread the virus. Here are some things that can help spread the virus:

GENERAL

  • There are no pre-screening measures to get on the school bus or when entering the school, such as temperature checks or questions about COVID-19 symptoms.
  • There are no instructions to stay home for those who are sick or recently exposed to a person with COVID-19. Instructions should cover both staff and students.
  • COVID-19 informational signs are not displayed at school in highly visible locations (like school entrances and restrooms). Signs should describe how to stop the spread of germs.

MASKS AND OTHER MEASURES TO HELP STOP THE SPREAD

  • Teachers, staff, and students over age 8 are not wearing masks or other face coverings. These ages are usually in 3rd grade and above.
  • Students and teachers do not have scheduled hand washing times, particularly before and after activities like eating, using shared supplies, toys, or equipment, entering school, and before leaving school.
  • Students do not sanitize or wash hands on entering a classroom, or there is a line with people closer than 6 feet to do this.
  • Students are made to switch classrooms multiple times a day/ for every class period.
  • If teachers are changing classrooms, they are not washing or sanitizing their hands on entering the class.
  • Frequently touched surfaces such as playground equipment, door handles, or sink handles are not cleaned and disinfected after every use.
  • Drinking fountains are still being shared and not cleaned after every use.
  • There is no limit on sharing objects such as school supplies, equipment, or toys.
  • Lockers:
    • are still used,
    • are not regularly disinfected OR
    • that are close together are used by students at the same time.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • There are not 6 feet between students or students and teachers:
    • When at their desks
    • When moving in classrooms
    • When waiting to enter or leave the school, schoolyard, or cafeteria
    • To get into and inside bathrooms
    • In cafeterias
    • In lunch lines
    • If they line up to leave the class room, including for breaks, transfers, dismissal, to go to buses, etc.
    • On the school buses; students are made to share a seat with others or seats aren’t being skipped to add space between students; OR a full size the bus has more than 33 people on it at a time.
    • During PE or recess, if schools are still scheduling these activities (PE is not being required by the Louisiana Department of Education this year.)
    • During extracurricular activities such as sports and club meetings.

What can I do if I think my child’s school is unsafe?

You can file a complaint directly with the Louisiana Department of Education by emailing ldoecovid19support@la.gov.

You can also call the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s office to file a complaint for any unsafe conditions at 800-256- 5452. Other ways of reaching the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s office can be found here.

Your local school board, local, parish or state health departments, or your city, parish or state government may also be able to help. If you don’t know where to report, you can contact your city or parish councilperson, or state representative, to explain your concern and find out where to report.

My child has a disability or a condition that places them at high-risk from COVID-19. Who can I contact?

People of any age with certain conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The list of these conditions can be found here.

If your child suffers from any of these conditions or has another documented disability, the following may be able to help:

  • The “504 Coordinator” for your parish’s school board.
  • Disability Rights of Louisiana may be able to provide legal assistance, and can be reached at 504-522-2337 or toll free at 1-800-960-7705. You can also apply for services here.

What if my child is in assigned to learn from home, but is not being given a good education?

Virtual learning will be safer for students. But it, too, has issues, including:

TECH ISSUES

  • Your child's school or your parish school board may say that you missed the registration deadline for virtual learning registration, or that you did not meet the requirements to get parish-provided tech to use for virtual learning.
  • Some students may not have access to Internet service or the devices needed for virtual learning (computers, laptops, etc.)
  • If you registered your child for virtual learning, your parish school board should have asked if you had the required equipment at home, so that it could be provided from the school board if necessary.
  • If your child is attending in-person school, but their class or school has to quarantine, your child should be offered virtual learning for the time they cannot attend school in-person
  • Information on Internet/broadband and telephone assistance can be found Assistance is not guaranteed and there are eligibility requirements.
  • The connection may be slow, may disconnect, or there may be a “lag” from what the teacher is showing and what your child sees.
  • The software used for virtual learning may be difficult to figure out and practice using the programs may be needed.

INSTRUCTION

  • Virtual learning may not provide individual assistance for your student, or some issues they are having with the material may not be noticed as easily.
  • Submitting assignments online instead of completing them in class in front of a teacher may make it harder to spot difficulties your child is having with certain skills or materials.
  • If your child’s school is using a “hybrid” schedule, where they are learning in-person on some days and virtually on others, this can cause a lot of disruption in learning.

If your student is experiencing these or other issues with virtual learning, it is important that you communicate with their teacher and school, so that your child does not face any disciplinary action or other consequences.

If your child has special needs and is not receiving proper accommodations, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) may be able to provide legal assistance. SPLC can be reached at 504-486-8982.

 

Additional Resources

RESOURCES ON DISCUSSING COVID-19 WITH CHILDREN

Guides for talking to your children about the virus can be found here.

Free activity book for discussing Covid with young children can be found here.

LEARNING TOOLS AND RESOURCES

The Louisiana Department of Education’s parent guide for virtual learning can be found here.

Free learning and activity resources can be found here.

The Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center (LPTIC) provides parents with information and training about supporting children with disabilities. LPTIC can also connect you with resources related to assisting children with disabilities during virtual learning. You can contact the Center by calling 800-766-7736 or 504-888-9111 or find a list of resources and activities here. Additional resources for supporting children with special needs can be found here.

Current as of August 17, 2020

Schools across Louisiana have begun to re-open or are scheduled to start in a few weeks. Each parish has its own reopening plan, which may include in-person or virtual classes, or a mix of both. It is important to check the reopening plan for your parish. Information on the reopening plans for the parishes Southeast Louisiana Legal Services serves can be found by checking the links listed below.

Ascension Parish

Assumption Parish

East Baton Rouge Parish

East Feliciana Parish

Iberville Parish

Jefferson Parish

Lafourche Parish

Livingston Parish

Orleans Parish

Plaquemines Parish

Pointe Coupee Parish

St. Bernard Parish

St. Charles Parish

St. Helena Parish

St. James Parish

St. John the Baptist Parish

St. Tammany Parish

Tangipahoa Parish

Terrebonne Parish

Washington Parish

West Baton Rouge Parish

West Feliciana Parish