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Academic librarians at three public universities in the Southern United States who are parents of school-aged children have experienced changes in their work, parenting, and the balance between them during the lockdowns, quarantines, and closures necessitated by the current pandemic. Many librarians have been affected by these conditions, and there are variations in the support and guidance provided by institutions, and the impact of governmental policies.
To begin, we selected a purposive sample of 11 public, SACS-accredited universities from the 11 states in the Southeastern U.S.
We compiled university policies related to the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other institutional support made available to librarians and other faculty and staff. Since leave policies have been updated since FFCRA provisions ended on December 31, 2020, we compared archived policies with policies in effect in 2021. We reviewed the text of these policies to determine how FFCRA was applied, and whether any other provisions were made for working parents after FFCRA ended.
In order to see how these policies were applied in practice, we surveyed librarians at the selected institutions.
Our results from the policy review are presented as an interactive table with links to available policy sites. For each institution, it shows whether a guidance page on FFCRA was available in 2020, whether there was an extension of leave after the federal act expired, information on leave specifically related to school closures; and whether policies applied to parents who chose to keep children out of school.
As of May 2021, we have received survey responses from seven states. Themes have been drawn from the open-ended answers we have received so far, and several relevant quotes have been broken out to authentically express the experiences of the participants.
There have been positive and negative impacts resulting from the leave policies, and remote and flexible work arrangements that were implemented in response to the pandemic.
Many participants observed a breakdown of boundaries between work and family time, and frequent interruptions to their work. However, most participants were not concerned that promotion or tenure would be impacted, due to policies implemented by their institutions. Participants also indicated that flexible leave policies are well received and have made it possible for them to learn new skills and remain productive.
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Is Part Of
VCU Libraries Faculty and Staff Presentations
Auten, B., Edwards, M., & Kelly, H. (2021). “Mapping the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Work-Life Balance of Academic Librarians with School-Aged Children.” MLA Annual Conference.