Newsletter: With classrooms shut for months, what’s a parent to do?

Lisa Hildreth is juggling working with homeschooling her four children, including her son, Eli Trafas.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 2. I’m Laura J. Nelson, filling in for Julia Wick, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed Wednesday that school campuses will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, meaning at least 12% of school-age children in the United States will be out of the classroom for months.

The pandemic has been a trying time for parents with kids of all ages.

Families have been forced to juggle childcare and work duties — or the stress of a layoff or furlough — with no play dates, library visits or after-school activities to fill the time. Students miss their friends. Everyone is struggling to adjust to online learning and working from home, without losing their minds.

Are you at home with your kids? Check out our “things to do” page, our resources page, or try these:

Closed schools have dealt a particularly hard blow for students with disabilities, who have lost access to the intense, hands-on tutoring and assistance required for their mental and physical needs. Their parents are scrambling to do what they can. As one mother said, “All of a sudden, I’m the teacher and I’m the aide.”


[Read the story: “Students with disabilities deprived of crucial services because of coronavirus closures”]

To keep mothers and new babies safe, Los Angeles hospitals are beginning to restrict the obstetric triage area to people giving birth, leaving expectant Angelenos to labor alone while their partners wait in the car. Once the baby is born, new families will have a just few minutes together before being asked to leave.

Being home with a newborn is even more nerve-wracking than usual. Getting out of the house to go to the doctor or run to the store has become especially fraught. Parents are spending more time on FaceTime, while confronting the disappointment that grandparents and grandchildren won’t meet in person for months.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


It’s time for Dodger baseball, sort of: If there is a Major League Baseball season this year, many more Dodgers fans will be able to watch from home. Spectrum has reached an agreement with AT&T to show Dodgers games, ending a seven-year blackout. Los Angeles Times

“Not if, but when.” Emergency room doctors in Los Angeles County who are afraid of infecting their spouses and young children have moved into a house together. They see their families in glimpses, and are missing big moments, including one doctor’s 11-month-old son walking for the first time. Los Angeles Times


The rent was due April 1. Read the letters that landlords are sending to their tenants in Southern California. LAist

Disneyland is closed, but annual passholders with monthly payment plans are still being billed. They cried foul. The park declined to comment. Orange County Register

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Nearly 300 Homeland Security Department employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 8,500 are under quarantine because of possible exposure to the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times


“You can’t be there and not be tainted by it.” The sordid details of a federal investigation into corruption and pay-to-play culture at Los Angeles City Hall have dealt a fresh blow to trust in local leaders. Los Angeles Times

Remember the presidential election? How “Never Bernie” voters changed the Democratic primary. New York Times


A drive-by protest: Housing activists demanding a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic drove in circles around Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house in Windsor Square on Wednesday, honking their horns, shouting from their windows and maintaining social distancing. Los Angeles Times

Outfoxed: Stung by occasional criticism from Fox News, President Trump has increasingly turned to the less-known but more consistently right-wing OAN. Los Angeles Times


Coronavirus at juvenile hall: A Los Angeles County probation officer has tested positive for COVID-19, and 21 children in juvenile detention are now in quarantine. Los Angeles Times

“I just went for it, I had one chance.” A locomotive driver at the Port of Los Angeles was charged with intentionally derailing a train near the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Mercy because he suspected it was “part of suspicious activities involving the coronavirus.” Los Angeles Times

They see me rollin’: Beverly Hills police found 192 rolls of toilet paper inside a stolen SUV. Los Angeles Times


There are some scientific grounds for examining chloroquine to treat COVID-19, but the hype has run so far ahead of scientific knowledge that red lights should be flashing and danger sirens sounding,” columnist Michael Hiltzik writes. Los Angeles Times


An acute shortage of supplies is hobbling hospitals in California as COVID-19 patients flood emergency rooms and intensive care units. Nurses and doctors are pleading for donations online, telling stories of reusing masks and rigging trash bags as gowns. Los Angeles Times

It’s who you know: In a scramble for masks and medical equipment to fight the novel coronavirus, the well-connected often get first dibs. Los Angeles Times

Can pets get coronavirus? It’s incredibly unlikely. Los Angeles Times


“While I tend to them, they tend to me too.” Interior designer Justina Blakeny, creator of the Jungalow, says in the new L.A. Times plants section that her houseplants help manage her stress about the pandemic. Los Angeles Times

From stage to screen: Home quarantine isn’t stopping comedians from telling jokes to audiences, but it’s changing how they do it. From Instagram Live to Twitch, this is how stand-ups are taking their talents to internet streaming shows. Los Angeles Times


Your long read for the week: How fast-talking union boss Dan Rush helped legalize pot in California, took kickbacks and ended up in prison. San Francisco Chronicle

If you’re missing baseball, try”Stealing Home,” a new book about the construction of Dodger Stadium. Much of the story is about members of the Aréchiga family, who became a symbol of one of the most controversial chapters in L.A.’s history after they were photographed being forced out of their home in Chavez Ravine. Los Angeles Times

MOCA has furloughed or cut pay for most of its staff. After laying off all 97 part-time employees last week, the modern art museum said Wednesday that almost all full-time employees are taking a full or partial furlough or a significant salary reduction. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 73. San Diego: mostly sunny, 65. San Francisco: sunny, 59. San Jose: sunny, 66. Fresno: sunny, 70. Sacramento: sunny, 68. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Steven Tracy, who went body surfing in the San Dieguito Lagoon on his way to classes at UC San Diego:

One sunny morning with glassy conditions and a beautiful left break just near the beginning of the Torrey Pines Park cliff, I took off. Suddenly, right next to me was a porpoise. He swam easily alongside me as if to say, “Hey buddy, here’s how you do it!” Talk about getting a swimming lesson from a pro.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.