Essential California Week in Review: The future of family life

Tenth-grade students Erik Garcia, 15, left, and Fredy Rubio, 16, wait to pick up laptops at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School in Huntington Park, to do schoolwork at home, on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
Tenth grade students Erik Garcia, 15, left, and Fredy Rubio, 16, wait to pick up laptops at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School in Huntington Park, for school work at home.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, April 4.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Extended closures. California’s public K-12 school campuses are expected to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Gavin Newsom this week said. In the meantime, distance learning is supposed to take its place.

Unequal access. That distance learning is off to a rocky start in some districts where poor students lack internet access. About 15,000 Los Angeles high school students are absent online and haven’t done any schoolwork, while more than 40,000 have not been in daily contact with their teachers since March 16, the Los Angeles Unified School District said Monday.

Double or triple duty. Parents have been forced to fill the gap left by school closures. It’s an especially tall order for moms and dads who are also working from home. Some are making spreadsheets, while others take it day by day.

New life under quarantine. Their children may not be in school — or even have been born — yet, but new and soon-to-be parents aren’t exempt from the pressure of the pandemic. The virus is upending birth plans as hospitals discourage visitors, and the joy of new parenthood has become a strange reality.

Early victories. California pushed social distancing early and quickly. Data have shown that residents mostly listened, and while cases are still mounting, the state’s measures may help it avoid New York’s fate of overflowing hospitals.

Rent day. Wednesday marked a particularly cruel start to the cruelest month. Thousands of jobs were lost and incomes evaporated within weeks. Californians met April 1 with questions and fears that stability they’d worked for could be wiped out.

Low pay, high demand. Delivery and grocery store workers are on the front lines, with low wages and little protection. Those at Whole Foods and Instacart pushed back this week, demanding better treatment from their employers.

Testing gap skews counts. Many of Los Angeles County’s whitest and wealthiest enclaves are reporting high rates of infection, while poorer neighborhoods of color seem to have few cases. Experts call it another sign of testing inequality.

Masks becoming a must? More national, state and medical officials are encouraging people to wear face coverings, reversing earlier recommendations. As more people don them, the mask could leave a lasting imprint on the American face.

A (non-medical) breakthrough. For six years, nothing could break the bitter stalemate that prevented fans in much of Los Angeles from regularly watching Dodgers games on TV. But this week, AT&T agreed to add SportsNet LA to DirecTV and its other television services.

A new free agent. Beloved diner Nate ’n Al’s closed last week, leaving 69-year-old Gloria Leon without a job. The plus side: Her decades serving customers earned her a stellar reputation, and the offers from rival restaurants and friends alike haven’t stopped rolling in. “I felt like I was Tom Brady,” she said.

“Slow torture.” With limited access to cleaning supplies and tight quarters, people in L.A. County’s jails say it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus arrived. Lower-risk inmates across the state have been released to cut down on crowding, but the virus has arrived at an L.A. facility anyway.

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1. How to make your own coronavirus face mask — including a no-sew one. Los Angeles Times


2. Coronavirus statistics by neighborhood. Crosstown L.A.

3. Has Dodger Stadium turned into a rental car lot? The Eastsider

4. Read the letters SoCal landlords are sending as rent comes due in this pandemic. LAist

5. It’s April 1. What you need to know if you’re a renter during the coronavirus pandemic. Los Angeles Times

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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)