Why It’s So Hard to Report on Schools While Home-Schooling During a Pandemic

With a college kid rooting around the fridge for yet another meal, a husband conducting loud Zoom meetings about two feet from my desk, and a teen with autism freaking out from a lack of structure, 2020 is not shaping up to be a banner year for productivity as a freelance education writer. I only published two pieces since the schools were shut down in March.

Across professions, working parents had a tough spring as they attempted to do their jobs while reviewing math facts with their 7-year-olds and building Legos with toddlers. One survey found that the average parent spent 13 hours per week helping their children with their schoolwork this spring. Experts say that this burden has fallen most strongly on women, with many speculating that this new load may set a generation of women permanently behindin the workplace.

If I were going through this alone, I would have adjusted to the “new normal” eventually. But the school closure was particularly tough on my son with autism. I struggled to find blocks of uninterrupted time to get into the flow of writing when so many hours were spent filling in the vacuum that school left. I questioned my ability to continue to write about schools objectively, given our family’s experiences. Despite these difficulties, I am more committed to my career more than ever, because this pandemic has shown a bright light on the vital role that schools play in our society and economy, and how writing about education and children matters.

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