Aug 31, 2020 - 11:00am

School is Back in Session. What that Means for PUA.


Special Assistant to the President

As the Pandemic persists and Election Day gets closer, debates surrounding the reopening of schools are heating up. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) provided relief for caregivers who were unable to return to work because their child’s school or care center was closed due to COVID-19 through means of paid leave or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  Of course, that was in the context of schools suddenly closing for, what was hoped at the time, just the spring.  With COVID still with us and some schools inviting students back for the fall, the Department of Labor has provided guidance addressing the eligibility of PUA claimants who are affected by differing school reopening policies.

The guidance included three scenarios in which a PUA claimant might be affected:

  1. If a school goes fully online as a result of the pandemic, and students are not able to attend school physically, the school is considered closed under the CARES Act. If an individual must stay home to be the primary caregiver for the student, the individual may be eligible for FFCRA paid leave. If the individual is ineligible for paid leave, unable and unavailable to work, and cannot telework because attention must be paid to the student, the individual is eligible for PUA. Individuals who receive a portion of paid leave or worked hours must report this on their PUA certifications.
  2. If a school is practicing hybrid learning as a result of the pandemic, in which students are physically in school some days and physically home other days, the school is considered closed under the CARES Act. Likewise, if an individual must stay home to be the primary caregiver for the student, the individual may be eligible for FFCRA paid leave. If the individual is ineligible for paid leave, unable and unavailable to work, and cannot telework because attention must be paid to the student, the individual is eligible for PUA. Individuals who receive a portion of paid leave or worked hours must report this on their PUA certifications.
  3. If a school offers both remote learning and full-time in-school learning as a result of the pandemic, the school is considered open under the CARES Act. Therefore, a caregiver who chooses to have their student participate in remote learning is not eligible for PUA unless they meet another PUA qualification.

 

PUA is available for individuals who normally do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance until December 31, 2020.

The Chamber continues to track each state’s reopening plan and progress here.

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Special Assistant to the President