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How Course Hero Is Supporting Working Parents During COVID-19

Flexible hours, extra time off, and kid-friendly Zoom events are some of the ways we’re helping working parents navigate unprecedented times.

Transitioning to an entirely remote workforce was the safest choice for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,but it hasn’t been without its set of challenges—especially for working parents. Many of our employees at Course Hero are pulling double duty, dividing their time between work and childcare, with most overseeing virtual schooling on top of everything else. It’s a lot, and we get it.

Here, three of Course Hero’s working parents—Hilarree Wong, mother of a 3-year-old daughter; Venkat Saranathan, father to a sixth grader; and Kevin Krueger, father of a first grader and a fourth grader—talk about the challenges of parenting while working full time, and how the company has adapted to better support them (and all of Course Hero’s working parents) with new initiatives and activities to help mitigate some of their stress.

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Extra paid leave, even more flexible work hours …

Juggling parenting duties and a full-time career is hard even in the best of circumstances. So when schools and daycares began closing down, working parents faced a new level of difficulties. To help them manage, Course Hero offered employees 10 days of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), an additional 10 days of Course Hero Paid Sick Leave, and up to 12 weeks of Emergency Family Medical Leave (EFMLA) on top of the flexible hours.

“Course Hero has always offered a flexible schedule,” says Hilarree. “We’re not a company that clocks you in from nine to five. But HR and the leadership team recognized that under these circumstances it’s especially tough for parents with young kids, and that expectations must be adjusted.” According to Hilarree, this not only set the tone for managers and coworkers to temper their expectations but also kept her from putting too much pressure on herself. “I think everybody understands the situation, and that makes me feel good, being part of the company.”

Hilarree took advantage of the emergency paid leave at the beginning of the lockdown. “It was impossible to plan for life with a toddler and anticipate what would come up. There was so much uncertainty—the school shut down, we didn’t have help. My husband and I ended up comparing our work calendars and dividing up childcare in shifts. I took a few Fridays off, which allowed me to just focus on my daughter and not worry about planning shifts with my husband.”

Even as things have calmed down and her family has found a new rhythm, Hilarree is grateful for the leave options available. “Knowing that I have that 10 days if I need it is such a relief. It feels like the company actually cares about us. And that’s so important.”

… and mental health days

Venkat told us that his managers encouraged using paid sick days for mental health, to take a break and reset. “With everything going on—work, worrying about COVID-19 and staying healthy, remote learning, your kids—it can be overwhelming, and too much to handle sometimes. You just need a break for a couple of days. I really like the fact that Course Hero encourages mental health days for when we’re feeling burned out or super stressed.”

Keeping kids occupied …

In addition to several paid leave options for parents, Course Hero has been offering virtual children’s events, both to widen kids’ social circles so they’ll feel less isolated, and also keep them occupied so their parents could eke out an hour or two to catch up on work or household chores.

One activity—a child-friendly science experiment—was actually organized by an employee wanting to give his parent co workers a break. His baking soda volcano turned out to be a big hit with the littles!

Another was a virtual cooking class attended by Venkat’s son, Arnav. He and the other children followed along with the instructions to make a frozen banana pop. Arnav was able to make the treat with minimal help from his parents, and they were able to enjoy a brief respite, as well as the dessert their son created.


In the early days of the shutdown, Hilarree came to depend on another of Course Hero’s regular events, Story Time with Gio. “In the beginning, we were trying to do everything on our own without help, and managing the days of a 2½-year-old can be exhausting. Our daughter, Jacadi, has a lot of energy, but during story time, she really sits down and pays attention. That’s the time when I can prep lunch or dinner—or just use that 30 minutes to take a break.” Pre-pandemic, Hilarree and Jacadi were regulars at their local library’s story times, so these virtual versions brought some semblance of normalcy. Story Time, which is offered every weekday morning and afternoon, has become something Jacadi looks forward to, asking, “Is it Story Time with Gio yet?”

Kevin’s two sons, Cameron and Logan, were fans of Story Time as well. Besides giving him a breather during his workday, Kevin, who joined Course Hero (remotely) last April, also got a chance to meet and interact with some new coworkers in a different, more relaxed setting. As for his sons, “They thought maybe this is what I do when I’m at work— participate in story times!” Kevin laughs.

… and screen time in check

Parents have had concerns about screen time long before schools and activities were moved online, but recent events have exacerbated the issue. Kevin has taken advantage of Course Hero’s “no meetings from 12p-1p” policy, using that lunch hour for a trip to the park with his family.

Venkat also relies on his flexible schedule (and his understanding coworkers) when occasionally, in the middle of a meeting, he has to duck out and troubleshoot tech issues for his son, for instance if Zoom shuts down. He considers Course Hero’s time management options as an opportunity to teach his son about managing his own screen time. “He’s learning to divide his allotted time between texting with friends, gaming, and movie watching,” Venkat says. “We’ve told our son, this is not meant to restrict you, it’s meant as your guideline. You have to plan your day accordingly and use your time wisely.”

This junior management strategy seems to be working, though Venkat says it’s a work in progress.

One of Course Hero’s core values is to support students on their road to graduation, and this culture of support clearly extends to employees as well. If this sounds like a company you’d like to be a part of, we encourage you to check out our job listings today!

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Course Hero is an online learning platform where you can access course-specific study resources contributed by a community of students and educators.