The new rule goes into effect Aug. 7

By Jen Juneau
July 01, 2020 03:55 PM
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Florida State University has announced that come early August, it will not continue to allow employees to work from home while simultaneously taking care of their children.

"In March 2020, the University communicated a temporary exception to policy which allowed employees to care for children at home while on the Temporary Remote Work agreement," read an email to staff, according to multiple outlets including Tallahassee-based WCTV2. "Effective Aug. 7, 2020, the University will return to normal policy and will no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely."

Dr. Jenny Root — an assistant professor of special education at FSU and mother to a 4-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter — tweeted about the incident, saying she "can't even process" it and telling The Lily that her "initial thought" was, " 'Well, what am I supposed to do with [my kids]?' "

"None of us are enjoying this. It makes me feel like I'm failing at everything I do," Root told The Lily, saying FSU powers that be are "acting like they gave us this privilege to watch our children while we worked — when that's literally what I had to do."

In a statement to The Lily, FSU Associate Vice President for Human Resources Renisha Gibbs said, "As FSU looks toward resuming normal campus operations — as conditions allow — we felt a responsibility to provide our employees notice of our intention to return to our standard telecommuting agreement that requires dependent or child-care arrangements while working remotely."

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FSU campus
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"If employees do not have day care options or choose not to send their children to school in the fall, they should work with their supervisors to identify a flexible work schedule that allows them to fulfill their work duties and their family responsibilities," Gibbs added.

According to leonschools.net, public primary, secondary and high schools are scheduled to resume on Aug. 10, while WCTV2 reports FSU has delayed employees' return to campus from an original plan of July 6. FSU reports that classes for the fall semester are scheduled to begin on Aug. 24.

Despite the new rule, a recent survey found that parents who are working from home as the global health crisis continues to play out may find themselves being more productive than their childless counterparts.

While the difference is negligible, some may find it a surprise that in Valoir's May survey of 327 professionals working remotely, those participants without children reported a 3 percent decrease in productivity, according to Yahoo!while those with children reported just a 2 percent drop.

Mother multi-tasking with daughter in home office
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Overall, though, "Our survey found stay-at-home orders have had only a 1 percent negative productivity impact on those working from home," the company said.

"Parents have a slightly bigger productivity hit of 2 percent on average, but the folks that really were hit were those who were working alone without anybody else in their house to talk to," said Valoir CEO Rebecca Wettemann, Yahoo! reported.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Florida Department of Health is reporting 158,997 total cases of coronavirus, with 14,825 hospitalizations and 3,650 deaths as a result. Single-day COVID-19 cases in Florida have surged as of late, hitting a record 9,552 cases on June 26.

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