CHICAGO (WLS) — A Chicago mom is worried she may have to quit her job because she is being told to report back to the office, despite the demands of her young son’s e-learning.

The woman is an employee of the Illinois Department of Human Services, which has approximately 15,000 workers statewide.

She said she needs to be home to watch her 6-year-old son, but is being told that remote work is no longer an option.

“It’s impossible to leave him alone,” said the mother, who does not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.

But she said she’s standing up for other parents, who are scrambling to find care for their kids as they start e-learning this fall.

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“My son is a CPS student, which means he will be homeschooled, 100% remote, which means that I need the option to also be at work with him to get all of his work done,” she said.

The woman said she’s been working from home since March due to COVID-19.

“Working remote hasn’t changed anything. We’ve still been able to provide clients with medicinal benefits, link benefits,” she said. “The work is still getting done.”

But she said she was recently informed that she and half of her coworkers will have to return to work, in-person, at the end of the month.

That means her young son would be left at home alone while e-learning, she said.

“I asked if, when we go back to our offices, could I remain home and the answer was in a email, ‘no,'” the mother said.

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She said her employer told her she could apply for a job modification, but only for a medical reason.

“There’s very few childcare options. And if there are childcare options, they’re expensive and they’re not in our budget right now. So, I don’t have a choice. I have to remain home with him,” she said.

In response to the mother’s claims, an IDHS spokesperson said,

“We have worked diligently with the Department of Public Health to put in place polices that protect the health and safety of our staff and accommodate the varied needs of our workforce, including Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical Leave … We have nearly 20% of local staff onsite at a time to support every person in need of SNAP, Medicaid and other critical assistance. We understand and acknowledge that we are facing difficult, unprecedented times and we take the needs and concerns of our staff very seriously.”

But this mother said their response is not enough.

“It makes me upset because I’m just trying to do the best I can do in these crazy times and to have a job that is being so inflexible and not realistic,” she said. “If that means losing my job, then so be it. It will be hard for my family, but I have to put him first.”

The department said its No. 1 priority is to provide people in Illinois with their basic needs. It serves one in every three Illinoisans.

Read the department’s full statement:

“At the Illinois Department of Human Services, we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our staff and the communities we serve. IDHS serves one in every three Illinoisans with essential medical, nutritional and other life-sustaining supports. Our ongoing commitment and number one priority is to safeguard the basic needs of Illinois residents. We have worked diligently with the Department of Public Health to put in place polices that protect the health and safety of our staff and accommodate the varied needs of our workforce, including Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical Leave. Our heroic hospital and other 24/7 facility staff have been working onsite from the beginning of the pandemic and are required to wear PPE and practice social distancing. We have nearly 20% of local staff onsite at a time to support every person in need of SNAP, Medicaid and other critical assistance. We understand and acknowledge that we are facing difficult, unprecedented times and we take the needs and concerns of our staff very seriously.”

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