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Parents are losing it.

A New York Times story this week lays out the stark, devastating data on just how screwed most American families are at the moment – for example: “Eighty percent of parents who are both working remotely during the pandemic will also be handling child care and education.”

A researcher who’s been interviewing parents for months told the Times that most of those conversations have involved parents breaking down crying.

Here in San Diego, Union-Tribune reporter Josh Emerson Smith laid out why he decided to take emergency leave to supervise his young kids’ schooling – in short, his family didn’t see many other options.

One of his colleagues wondered on Twitter whether it is possible to care for a five-month-old while also working. (Many people offered takes with caveats about how it all depends on the baby, or the employer, or your partner. I’m here to say the only answer is emphatically, unequivocally, NO.)

With schools closed and in the absence of robust leadership and public buy-in, parents are forced to make these impossible choices and slap together makeshift half-solutions to get by as best they can.

(So should we just open schools? Given what’s happened in Georgia and North Carolina, seems like not!)

The government isn’t providing the leadership that would create the circumstances in which schools could open safely.

“Fighting recessions and building public infrastructure, including care, health, and educational infrastructure—this should not be the work of citizens,” Annie Lowery wrote this week. “When it is, let’s acknowledge that’s a tragedy.”

But in addition to the government failing at its job and the citizens trying desperately to pick up the slack, there’s another stakeholder here that needs to step up too.

Implicit in Emerson Smith’s essay is the idea that he can’t juggle helping his kids with his demanding job. That’s not to pick on the Union-Tribune – most businesses presumably employ parents.

But every businesses in every industry, even those that perform vital work like informing citizens in the run-up to the election, or providing groceries or caring for the sick, need to grapple with how to serve their own workforce in addition to the people who use their services.

No parent in these circumstances can do the exact same amount of work in the exact same amount of hours as before the pandemic. And no employer should expect them to.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Two weeks after we revealed SDPD was still enforcing a blatantly unconstitutional law (and likely using it to punish people who offended officers), the department says it will stop writing seditious language tickets and the city attorney’s office is pursuing striking the law from the books.

Speaking of free speech, Supervisor Jim Desmond is using his podcast to elevate skepticism and sometimes outright falsehoods about the coronavirus.


Students around the county are leading a push to require ethnic studies classes.

In Coronado, however, an effort to reform school policies to improve the experiences of students of color is being met with hostility and opposition by a group that includes leaders of a local church.

Many of the day camps being set up to accommodate students whose schools have moved online might be violating the rules.


The city is making big plans for the sports arena property, but no one seems to be contending with the fact that it could be severely compromised by rising seas in mere decades.


We talked about Uber, Lyft and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s decision to wade into the fight over a state labor law on this week’s podcast. Meanwhile, the Legislature is busy writing new laws – but some of the big housing measures on the table got killed off this week.


The federal jail facility downtown has nearly 50 coronavirus cases, following warnings from defense attorneys that prosecutors were charging lots of new cases and detaining people unnecessarily.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“What sells copy is how to fix vaginas … that men feel are broken.” – God bless Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion for forcing discussions like this into the hallowed pages of the New York Times.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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