Student parents juggle through the COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some Orange Coast College student parents to juggle even more than they did before after schools closed and children had to stay at home.

The novel coronavirus has upended the lives of people across Orange County, with some equating the pandemic to the likes of wartime rationing during World War II.

Since the disease took a toehold in the country, states have extended school closures, leaving parents left to juggle displaced children, working from home and online classes.

Many parents rely on schools not only for their children’s educations but also for child care. With so many child care centers closed, many working parents have nowhere to turn.

Vi Do, director of Rainbow Raising, an on-site childcare program that provides before and after school care at 14 schools throughout Irvine, said she had wanted to keep the center open for working parents but was sad when the facility had to close.

“I worry about the parents that have to work and don’t have any other option,” Do said.

Single parents are a group that Do is especially concerned for during this time.

Karina Nam, a 32-year-old business major at Orange Coast College, said she has two kids at home and life has been a balancing act while she juggles her own classes and those of her children.

“I still have to go to my 9 to 5. I’m lucky my parents offered to babysit them,” Nam said. “In between my own schoolwork and my normal mom duties, I worry I am not giving them the attention they need for schooling. I am very worried they might fall behind in school.”

Omar Garcia, 28, an engineering major at OCC and a parent of three and said he is stressed about being laid off in addition to his studies.

“I have to hide the stresses of the virus, the uncertainty of not knowing how I am going to pay rent this month, and my own stresses of trying to pass finals,” Garcia said.

Although many children see it as an early summer vacation, parents have to explain why they can’t go outside and play with their friends.

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