COVID Resources for Staff
COVID FMLA Information
Notice of Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
If you believe you meet the criteria for Public Health Emergency Leave or Emergency Paid Sick Leave, as described above, please refer to the e-mail you received on March 30th, 2020 from Molly Viesselman with the subject line, “IMPORTANT!! FFCRA leave/pay information” or contact the Human Resources department to obtain an application form and directions. Please return the completed form and required documentation to Molly Viesselman as soon as possible at: mviesselman@northfieldschools.
COVID Expanded FSA and HRA Changes
As some of you may know, congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act resulting in legislative changes around flex and HRA spending related to the COVID pandemic. Below you will find information about these changes and answers to commonly asked questions.
Has the IRS expanded the eligible medical flex and HRA expenses list due to COVID-19?
Yes. Medical FSAs and HRAs can now be used to purchase over-the-counter medical products, including those needed in quarantine and social distancing, and feminine hygiene products, without a prescription from a physician. This change occurred on March 27, 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed. This means you can use both your HRA or medical FSA to pay for these items or be reimbursed without an RX from a doctor. This change is made effective retroactive to January 1, 2020. Therefore, individuals who previously purchased OTC medicines or menstrual products can request reimbursement for these items if they saved their store receipts. As with all FSA, HRA, or HSA expenses, receipts are required for reimbursement.
I am not working, or working from home, at this time due to COVID-19, can I decrease my dependent care FSA election amount?
Yes, the COVID situation provides several possible reasons to allow an election change. These changes need to be made within 30 days of your qualifying event. For example, schools closing in mid-March and schools expanding closures through the end of April would both be qualifying events with the event date being the day the closures went into effect. Here are other reasons IRS allows an election change:
- Reductions in hours that causes loss in coverage
- Change in employment status
- FMLA leave
- Substantial change in employer benefits/cost
- Change of cost from the provider
- Change of provider resulting in change of cost
If you want to make a Dependent Care FSA change this must be done within 30 days of the qualifying event date. If your event date was universal public knowledge you do not need to provide documentation( ie school closing). If your event was not universal public knowledge then you would still need to provide the required qualifying event documentation (ie a change of employment status or birth of a child).
Not sure if you should make a change yet?
Here are some scenarios that may help you decide: Right now you know the schools will be closed for April but are not sure what will happen after that, you may wait until later this month to make your FSA change (within the 30 day window) and perhaps later this month you may have a better idea of how much you need to change your election. If you decide you do not need to make a change at this time, then later you find out school closings will be extended again, that would create another qualifying event and you could make your election change within 30 days of the extension date.
If you would like to change your dependent care election please see the enrollment form link and directions at the end of this email.
My child’s school is closed due to COVID-19, I still must work though, can I increase my DCAP election?
The election may be increased if the child being unable to attend school results in an increase in daycare expenses. For example, both spouses work during the school year and one does not work when school is out, so they never needed day care until now. This change must be made within 30 days of your qualifying event just as this is outlined in the question above about decreasing DCAP elections.
I have increased medical expenses due to the COVID-19, can I increase my medical FSA election amount?
Unfortunately, no, an increase in medical expenses does not qualify as a reason to increase your FSA election amount. You would only be able to change your medical FSA election if you experience a typical qualifying event such a: change in employment status for you or a spouse that results in benefits changes, birth of a child, divorce, loss of existing health coverage, etc.
Can I change other benefits at this time?
No, not unless you have a typical qualifying event such as: change in employment status for you or a spouse that results in benefits changes, birth of a child, divorce, loss of existing health coverage, etc.
If you have had a qualifying event or would like to update your dependent care flex spending account please contact Andrea Nelson-Walker, Benefits and Payroll Specialist.
*Information sourced from Further: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions – Further Learning Site
COVID Staff Resources for Family and Self Care
Here you will find things to help you navigate the COVID pandemic including tips to reduce COVID anxiety, self-care, adult and family resources, children resources, and more.
The Minnesota Department of Health website contains many great resources for behavioral health and emergency preparedness that can be accessed here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/index.html#covid19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website also offers many great resources that can be found here: Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 | CDC. You will find general information about COVID and how to protect yourself and family along with resources for managing anxiety and stress.
Things you can do to support yourself:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Please also remember you and your families always have access to our Employee Assistance Program through Sand Creek. They can be reached at (651) 430-3383 or through Sand Creek EAP | Employee Assistance Program | AllOne Health®. The company code to access the EAP website is Northfield. If you register on their website you will find a plethora of resources. I have also created a google file of resources sourced from Sand Creek including reading about managing anxiety, depression, and stress. There is also info in the file about how to talk to children about stress, tips to work from home, and how to practice mindfulness and wellbeing. The Sand Creek COVID resources file can be accessed in google drive here.
Sanvello is a Medica partner that has developed a website and mobile app called Pacifica. It’s described as a solution grounded in empathy: meeting people where they are in moments of need and surrounding them with tools and strategies that provide relief. Sanvello has made their services free to everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit this site for more information and to register: Free Premium Access for Coronavirus Anxiety Support – Sanvello. This is a fantastic resource if you don’t feel you need to seek professional mental health support but would like activities and a structured program to support mental health.
All Medica members have free access to the program: Live and Work Well : Welcome. If you need extra help and support, Live and Work Well can help. With Live and Work Well, you’ll find health resources and personalized support services to help you and those you care about find the balance, support and care to live the healthiest life possible.
If you have questions about these resources or other benefits please contact Andrea Nelson-Walker, Benefits and Payroll Specialist.