This post might feel a little late since schools and daycares have been closing on and off since March of 2020. But, since my kid’s daycare closed this week due to Omicron, and my entire team is out sick, I figured I could share how we have survived the ever closing school and daycare situation for the last 2 years.
The difficulty of working in a dental office is that everyone’s role is important. And when you can’t be in the office, your whole crew suffers. So when you get the dreaded call that your daycare or school is shutting down due to Covid, you need to jump into action to figure out a way to find your child care or get your office coverage.
Here is what Dental Assistants, Hygienists, front office staff, and dentists should do if their kid’s school or daycare closes due to COVID.
#1 Notify your employer immediately
Even after 2 years of informing our boss that we are sick or our kids are sick, it still seems nerve-wracking to call out. But your employer needs to know that you will try to get coverage either for them or for your kids. And that they should prepare to be short-staffed for a few days if you can’t find someone immediately to help watch your kids.
Take this as an opportunity to game plan with them. So here are some questions you should ask.
IF you can get a sitter to watch your kids for a few days, what days would they prefer that you work?
Does anyone else in your office have the same problem? And if so, can you split the cost of a sitter with them?
Are there any extremely crucial days that they absolutely need you in the office, and if so, can they assist with the cost of a sitter so you can be there?
Can they open a temp request up now, so they will have temp coverage if you are unable to get a sitter?
Make sure they understand that this is out of your control, but you will do everything you can to take as little time off work as possible.
#2 Work with the other parents at your daycare
When our daycare closes, I immediately call the other parents to see if they want to swap days watching kids.
Sometimes you get lucky, and they offer to take your kid all week. Other times, they want to split the week with you.
Either way, you get some free childcare, so you still have a few days you can go to work.
If the days don’t matter to the other parent, try to align the days they watch your kid with the days your office needs you to be there.
If nobody seems into swapping kids, ask about splitting the cost of a sitter. They might be into that, which will save you some $$.
#3 Have sitters ready
This one took me a while to learn, but after our daycare shut down for the 3rd time, I finally signed up on one of those sitter websites/apps. I was able to find a handful of sitters at very reasonable rates ($13/hr), and after an interview and a background check, I felt very confident with having some of the girls I met watch my kids. I actually have a gal from SitterCity watching my child as I type up this blog.
Don’t feel comfortable using one of those websites? Ask your local Facebook Group for suggestions. I always feel better with referrals.
Now, if you are a Dental Assistant or front office staff, after taxes, it might cost you more to get a sitter to watch your kid than if you just stayed home.
So talk with your employer.
See if they need you badly enough to help you cover the cost of a sitter. And again, reach out to parents in your daycare/school to see if they want to have the sitter watch both your kids so you can split the cost. It seems they only charge an extra $2 to $3 to add a second kid. So rather than paying $13/hr, you can pay them $15/hr, but you only pay $7.50.
#4 Help find your office coverage
If you absolutely can’t find someone to watch your kid. Help your office find someone to replace you for the day(s) you are out.
Reach out to your previous co-workers to see if anyone can work it. Or log into the Facebook groups and post your needs.
You can also help your office get signed up on DirectDental, post the job and reach out to temps to get your office staffed.
#5 Be prepared for the worst
I’m no lawyer, but from what I can find, the labor laws seem to only protect your employment status when you have to take time off for childcare-related issues if you work at a location with 25 or more employees.
It would be silly if your office let you go into this job market because you needed time off to care for your children. But if they do, that is their loss, and there will be plenty of offices who would be happy to hire you.
So if you feel like your employer discriminates against you due to your childcare issues, update your resume and get it posted on DirectDental.
My sympathy goes out to all parents and employers during this never-ending pandemic. We continue to be tested daily as we try to stay healthy, keep our families happy, and our office staffed.
I genuinely hope this helps you handle things better the next time your daycare or school closes.