Holiday. Vacation day. Personal leave. No matter what you call it, having an occasional day off from work is a nice treat. But imagine having to take leave for several days, weeks or even months because of forced school or day care closings. If schools were closed during a flu pandemic or other outbreak of infectious disease, could you skip work and stay home to care for your kids?
While it may be a nice change of pace for you for a day or two, your employer may think otherwise. Some employers aren't flexible. They may not grant sick or vacation leave, and they may not offer the option of working from home. For many parents or guardians, an unexcused absence could lead to job or wage loss.
School closings will have an impact far beyond the school yard. Any closings, even for a relatively short period of time, will result in high rates of workplace absenteeism, causing both social and economic disruptions. Staff absences may interrupt the daily operations of a workplace and how it functions during an emergency. They may even impair the delivery of essential public services such as power, transportation and communications.
Communities and businesses need to investigate options for child care if schools must close and establish a "plan B" to minimize work place absenteeism. Telecommuting is one alternative. No matter what the circumstances, both communication and planning is key for ensuring that everyone is prepared.