California parents face possible long-term homeschooling
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom's assessment that it's likely “few if any” California schools will reopen before summer break surprised parents, who wondered Wednesday how distance learning would work.
David De Leon, whose son is an 8th-grader in Santa Ana, said he was shocked by the announcement.
“I don’t know if it’s viable,” De Leon said. “To throw it out for everyone to use until the end of the school year I think is unreasonable.”
Before his son’s school shut down, he was told to take all his schoolbooks and school-assigned Chromebook home. For now, teachers are suggesting that kids use certain academic programs until they can develop a distance learning curriculum, he said.
In Los Angeles, Filiberto Gonzalez, 45, said his three children have been in touch daily with their teachers and have an hour to four hours per day of work they can do on an existing online platform that supplemented classes. But the prospect of moving to an entirely online system raises a slew of challenges few were expecting.
“This whole process started with OK, we’re going to be away from school for two weeks, take this material with you, here’s a Chromebook,” he said. “The news that came yesterday was a real shock to a lot of us.”
Some parents are making their children get up at the same hour as if they are in school and have a scheduled day of online learning. Others are taking advantage of the online resources provided by school districts, like “Skype with a scientist” offered by the San Diego Unified School District, and virtual tours through museums worldwide.
San Diego high school teacher Elena Lujan-Alba said her 10th grade daughter is missing out on testing for Advanced Placement classes. But Lujan-Alba, whose husband is a math consultant for schools, is not as worried about keeping their two daughters up with academics as much as she is about their social activities.
“We try to manage the kids’ expectations. I tell them, ‘Guys you know that probably won’t happen,' to prepare them mentally. Then it’s like OK, that’s not happening. It’s like stages of grief, of letting go,” Lujan-Alba said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which normally serves a million meals a day to students in the nation's second-largest school district, on Wednesday debuted 60 “grab and go" stations to distribute breakfasts and lunches — a major scale-down from initial plans for family resource centers offering childcare and other services.
Newsom said Tuesday that nearly 99% of the state's K-12 schools are shuttered for periods generally ranging from two to five weeks.
"It is unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open before the summer break," he said, urging the more than 6 million schoolchildren and their families to make long-term plans.
The California Department of Public Health said Wednesday the state now has 13 deaths related to the coronavirus and 598 confirmed cases. More than 11,900 people are self-monitoring after returning from overseas.
While urging Californians to stay united and promising “we will get back to the life that we have lived,” Newsom also acknowledged that much is unknown and so the state is preparing for frightening worst-case scenarios.
The California National Guard is on alert for potential duties that include humanitarian missions like ensuring proper food distribution and public safety as some grocery stores resorted to rationing to control panic buying.