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School Closures and Parenting Time During COVID-19

Summer Break is a student’s reward for getting through a long school year and a parent’s annual puzzle of “What do we do with the Kids.” 

In 2020, “summer break” came early when COVID 19 shut down the schools in March. No summer camps. Lots of closed day cares. Many parents working at home or out of work. And then, as if that is not enough confusion – parenting plans that define time by “school breaks” and “summer break.”

These are not matters for the faint of heart as COVID 19 and its related restrictions have upended the daily rhythm of life.

Spring Breaks in March came just as many schools were shutting down and the first shelter in place orders were taking effect. By April Spring Breaks, school was already cancelled for this term. Separated parents suddenly had to find answers to lots of questions.

No. Arizona Court guidance is that school closures did not alter the school breaks or summer schedules in parenting plans. Meaning, as far as your parenting plan is concerned, school is still in session until whenever it was normally scheduled to end.   

In general, no. COVID 19 is not a basis, without more, to deviate from your parenting plan. The Courts are recommending people that people be flexible and reasonable. If a parent is infected with the virus or knows he/she was exposed to someone who tested positive that they consider quarantine without the children.  Otherwise, there is no recommendation to cancel parenting time merely because of the risk of exposure. 

Parents are however encouraged to use good judgment, communicate and be cooperative (always, but especially now) so if it makes better sense for everyone in the family to share the obligations of home-school more equally then you can make these arrangements by mutual agreement for this limited time. Same with any adjustments to the schedule that are mutually agreed.  

When in doubt and everyone is healthy: Follow your Parenting Plan. If COVID 19 strikes one of the parents (or someone in that household), please consider having the affected parent quarantine without the children, and schedule make up time and use phone and video chats to bridge that gap.

Yes, If you have joint legal decision making with your co-parent. COVID 19 does not change our court orders. Parents still must consult, coordinate and agree with their co-parent before making educational, medical, religious or major personal care decisions for their children. If you have unusual circumstances or more detailed questions, please consult the Court’s website for additional guidance or seek legal counsel. You can also check out our blog on parenting plan guidelines.

Message from McCarthy Family Law

McCarthy Family Law is here to help turn your stress into solutions. If you need help establishing or modifying your current parenting plan, we are here to assist you. At this time we are offering no charge initial phone consultations for those on the front lines, including medical professionals, first responders, law enforcement, and military personnel. Please call us at 520-623-0341 to explore your options.

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