LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As more school districts across SoCal opt to start the upcoming school year virtually, parents are scrambling to figure out how they’ll continue working while also facilitating their child’s learning.
“I don’t see how I can be a good employee and a good mom and a teacher on top of that,” said Rochelle Lewis, who lives in North Hollywood with two school-aged daughters. “So of course, I am the bad guy here. My kids always say I am mean and shouting.”
On Monday, the L.A. Unified School District — which has more than 750,000 students — announced that children will not return to in-person instruction any time soon.
Lewis said she doesn’t have a nanny or any family nearby to help. Her husband also works from home.
“When he works, he is focused and there are no interruptions, but for us we have to put on multiple hats during the day,” she said.
That is the burden of the working mother, says Darby Saxbe, an associate professor of psychology at USC and working mother of two.
“So we are seeing consequences disproportionality falling on women,” she said. “Women are leaving the workforce in much higher numbers than men are. They are just not meeting the same milestones in terms of productivity and I think that’s because women have been socialized to take over household, and childcare and managing children’s education.”
Saxbe said the impact is even greater for families of color and those living paycheck to paycheck.
“We are seeing within LAUSD that lower income kids are falling farther behind and are less able to access online schooling resource,” she said.
Those learning gaps will only widen the longer that children are out of the classroom, according to Saxbe.
“We have had a lot of conversations about the impact of the pandemic on the economy, for restaurant, for the travel business,” she said. “What we haven’t talked about as much is the impact on childcare and schooling, and I think part of that is that working moms and working dads are so overwhelmed with their jobs and their kids that they haven’t raised an outcry that we are just in an unsustainable position right now.”
Following the LAUSD announcement, Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach unified school districts made the decision Tuesday to keep schools closed for the beginning of the school year. Santa Ana also followed the trend, despite the Orange County Board of Education voting 4-1 Monday to allow schools to reopen next month with in-person instruction without masks or social distancing.