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California parents struggle with prospect of long-term homeschooling during coronavirus closures

                                California Gov. Gavin Newsom updates the state’s response to the coronavirus, at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova Calif., on Tuesday.


    California Gov. Gavin Newsom updates the state’s response to the coronavirus, at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova Calif., on Tuesday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> Extraordinary restrictions on everyday activities expanded to more areas of California today as many parents around the state struggled to fathom the prospect put forth by Gov. Gavin Newsom of schools staying closed until summer.

David De Leon, whose son is an eighth-grader in Santa Ana, said he was shocked by the announcement, which would mean that so-called distance learning would be required for the rest of the school year.

“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.”

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.

San Diego high school teacher Elena Lujan-Alba said her 10th-grade daughter is missing out on testing for Advanced Placement classes. But she and her husband are not as worried about keeping their two daughters up with academics as much as they are 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.

Three new individuals tested positive for the coronavirus at Carlton Senior Living center in Elk Grove outside Sacramento where one woman died last Tuesday, according to an alert sent to families of residents.

Two of the newly ill residents were tested at a hospital, while the other new case was tested at Carlton, the alert said.

Senior communities are especially vulnerable to the virus. One center in Washington has been linked to at least 30 coronavirus deaths.

Ten Northern California counties, including the Bay Area, and the Southern California city of Palm Springs have told residents to shelter in place, limiting movement to only essential purposes, and other jurisdictions have issued similar recommendations.

Most worrying for Bay Area resident Paul Toscano is the uncertainty of whether his business can survive.

“Almost everything in our life is upended right now,” said Toscano, chief marketing officer of Joyride Coffee, which supplies high-end coffee and kombucha kegs to offices, hotels and restaurants.

Newsom has encouraged all people 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to stay indoors. He’s also called for the shutdown of bars, movie theaters, fitness centers and other gathering places, and for restaurants to only serve to-go orders.

For areas not sheltering in place, state and national parks remained an alternative to sitting on the couch, but with limitations.

California State Parks announced it is temporarily closing all its campgrounds. But trails and beaches would remain open, along with restrooms. Visitors were reminded to maintain social distancing.

Those who can’t make it outside have an online alternative to enjoy California’s coming spring.

In the tiny desert town of Borrego Springs, which draws throngs of tourists when rains bring a “super bloom” of wildflowers, residents are making videos and photographs of the evolving landscape and posting them on a web page called ” Borrego Outside For People Inside.”

“We hope it brings people a little bit of diversion, of happiness, a feeling of actually being here,” said Mike McElhatton, program director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.

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