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Juggling remote learning and working from home nearly gave one Queens mom a “breakdown.”
When the coronavirus swept through the city, Nimyah Jones-LaCroix and her computer engineer husband chose to have their two children attend class online, to minimize any danger to her elderly parents, with whom the family shared a home.
“This will only be two more weeks, and we’ll get back to normal,” she thought.
But overseeing second-grade classes for her 7-year-old daughter and pre-kindergarten work for her 4-year-old son while working her job as a contracts manager for a Manhattan tech company left Jones-LaCroix tearing her hair out.
“I’d be reviewing a contract that I need to turn around ASAP, but I also have to read all the school’s emails, and figure out what my kids are going to do, and I have to figure out, ‘Does someone need to wipe their butt?’” she said. ” ‘You need yogurt,’ ‘You need rice pudding,’ ‘Sit down,’ ‘Be quiet,’ ‘Pay attention to your teacher’ — you’re constantly switching from one role to another, which is the story of all working parents during this time.”
Roughly 900,000 families in New York City public schools have children learning remotely — and are likely engaging in the same balancing act.
After six months, she’d had enough.
“I started complaining around Sept. 2,” Jones-LaCroix recalled. “It was just too much. I couldn’t figure out how to adjust to this new normal. Do I work early? Do I work later? Do I stay up til 2 a.m.? How do I make sure I’m present with my kids while they’re doing remote learning, and make sure they’re not switching to Netflix?
“What do I do?”
She asked her bosses at Socure Inc., a digital identity verification company, for a flexible schedule, noting her stress had gotten so bad she had begun crying in between meetings, but they rejected her request, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Then something snapped.
“I got up one day, and I just couldn’t. I hit this wall. I could not do the same routine as I had done before. I could not operate in the new normal,” she recalled.
Jones-LaCroix had an anxiety attack, and took a sick day.
“I’m about to have a nervous breakdown,” she told the company’s human resources department when she returned the following day, Jones-LaCroix says in the legal filing.
She inquired about a short-term leave, and was allegedly fired three hours later, according to the litigation, which claims the company sacked her without trying to accommodate her needs.
“Within hours, they just said, ‘See ya.’ I was in shock. I had received an MVP award, I had been doing well, I thought.”
Jones-LaCroix’s decision to put safety first, and keep her kids out of school, was met with insensitivity, said her lawyer, Orit Goldring, who declined to specify if Jones-LaCroix got any treatment for her breakdown.
“Regardless of how many of us are wiling to operate 24 hours a day, [during] school hours it’s impossible,” the attorney noted.
“Working parents are trying to work it out. We’re doing the absolute best that we can,” Jones-LaCroix said.
Socure didn’t respond to messages.
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