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As coronavirus causes closures, local residents seek alternative methods of entertainment

Rob Vermeeren, 44, of Huntington Beach and his son Maddox, 14, play the 12th hole at Huntington Beach Disc Golf Course on Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Jeff Spohr has been running the Huntington Beach Disc Golf Course for nearly five years.

The course was busy Tuesday afternoon. Rob Vermeeren of Huntington Beach got in a round with his 14-year-old son Maddox, an eighth-grader at the Pegasus School.

“We want people to have some joy in their lives still, through all of this,” Spohr said. “This is perfect. So is regular golf, but it’s expensive. We’re $2 [for a round], you know?”

But later Tuesday, Spohr was unsure whether the course would be open in the immediate future due to an Orange County order that all public and private gatherings outside of a household be curtailed through March as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“They are actually letting us open [Wednesday],” Spohr said in a text message. “They said they’ll give me an update [Wednesday]. We will see.”

With social distancing being encouraged and all local high schools closed for at least two weeks, many people are seeking alternative forms of entertainment.

Public libraries also are closed, as are movie theaters.

Kira Kyd of Costa Mesa runs a book club called the Babes and Books Club, with about 60 members on her mailing list. The club typically has in-person gatherings every six weeks, but on Monday, Kyd made an Instagram post of what she called a self-isolation reading list for the club, complete with a wine pairing for each book.

Kyd said the next in-person meeting was scheduled for April 8 but she is working to schedule a virtual meeting for next week to discuss “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides.

“Just like any other group, we’re kind of adapting to the times,” Kyd said. “We’re always keeping in touch online. I think a lot of people are feeling alone right now, so we’re just trying to use that community that we’ve created to bring everyone together and create resources and a network where people feel like they can reach out and have somebody there to talk to.”

Daniel Patterson, an author and a former assistant principal at Corona del Mar High, has some tips for parents who may have their children at home for the next several weeks or in online learning.

“Speaking in general terms, try to develop a schedule that is sustainable for the long haul,” Patterson said. “There’s a heavy presence on social media right now of people who are posting very aggressive, enviable schedules or programs or implementations in their home. Don’t let those intimidate you. Also, don’t be afraid to amend to a schedule that fits reality.

“If you come out of the gates with a super-rigid [plan] that’s aggressive and color-coded, it looks great on a post on Instagram. In terms of being able to put that into practice for a sustainable amount of time, pick something that is doable.”

Patterson, who wrote “The Assertive Parent: Hacks, Traps & Strategies for Raising Authentic Teens” in 2018, said he recommends that parents establish a schedule and give students “office hours.”

“Maybe two two-hour blocks during the day for learning for your middle-school- and high-school-age kids, where they’re doing work in a neutral location that’s not their bedroom, with limited technology,” Patterson said. “Certainly they might need to be on the computer and they might need their phone, but try to contain the social media or media consumption in general during the time they should be learning.”

A patron reads a notice Tuesday on the book-return window at Huntington Beach Central Library to "Keep your books." All Huntington Beach Library branches are closed to the public through April 15 due to safety concerns over the coronavirus. Late fines, fees and holds are suspended during that time.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The isolation could, in fact, bring families closer together. Amanda Crater of Huntington Beach said her daughter Isabella, an 8-year-old who attends Oka Elementary School, has been missing her classes at Southland Ballet Academy but has used the time to get creative.

“She’s started doing these little newscasts in her room, with chairs that we’re supposed to sit in,” Crater said. “She’ll write her little script and everything ... and she’s been doing little plays for us. She’s really seeming to enjoy her family’s attention.”

Hydee Beth said her son Griffin, a junior at Estancia High School who plays volleyball and water polo, also is keeping busy.

“I think this lack of activity has the opportunity to cause depression in our kiddos,” she said. “My son went from three sports, practices, games, friends, to zero. Home workout space, lots of counseling and a healthy diet — those are our strategies for now.”

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