TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Challenged. Exhausted. Overwhelmed.
That’s how many working parents would describe themselves while trying to juggle work and school-aged children’s distance learning.
“Tired is my middle name,” joked Capt. Jennifer Orozco, 60th Medical Operations Squadron social worker, who has five kids, including a newborn.
The Orozcos face the standard challenges of having a growing family; however, with in-school classes canceled since the beginning of the school year, it has made life even more challenging.
While on maternity leave, Orozco still manages to catch up with work, meet her newborn's demands and ensure her school-aged children stay on track with schoolwork while at the Travis AFB Youth Center.
Despite their busy schedules, the Orozcos make sure their children get all the support they need, not just academically, but also mentally.
“We keep an open dialogue with our children for them to express concerns they’ve had since COVID-19 came about,” said Orozco. “We encourage and support them the best way we can, and try to address any concerns that come up. Children are very resilient, especially military children, so they’ve done well overall with the changes this year.”
Other active-duty parents have had similar experiences.
“Having kids in separate grades is really tough,” said Matthew Campbell, 349th Operations Group resource adviser. “I’m in the middle of a fiscal year close out, I’m the money person at work, and I have to be extremely involved.”
Campbell and his wife, Senior Master Sgt. Louella Campbell, 60th Medical Support Squadron TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration flight chief, take turns working from home while their four children stay home while enrolled in distance learning.
Monitoring children’s progress can be a challenge while trying to find time for their own work, said Campbell.
“I mean, right now during this season, Mr. Campbell has to work on the weekends at home because his attention is on the kids during the week,” said Sergeant Campbell. “I don’t work in the mornings because they need the internet. There are six people in the house all fighting for internet, so the four kids have the priority. I work at night after everyone goes to bed.”
One thing the family can agree on is the extra time together this pandemic has provided. One of the hidden blessings that the Campbells have found is taking more walks as a family.
Unlike the Campbells, some parents still need other resources to accommodate their children’s needs. The Travis AFB Youth Center, where Orozco’s children go, now offers full-time care for school-aged kids. It used to be only a before and after care facility during school days.
“The Youth Center has been converted into a quiet area to make sure that the children are able to focus and concentrate on their schoolwork with adult supervision,” said Carrie Basaca, 60th Force Support Squadron Youth Center director. “We do have leaders, but not certified teachers. I can tell you that they have been a big help to the success of these children.”
They support military families, especially single Airmen and mil-mil parents.
“The Youth Center has quickly adapted to the needs of distance learning students and has provided increased internet access and connection and they work with the teachers during the school day,” Orozco said. “Being able to send my kids to childcare has also enabled me to heal from my c-section and care for my newborn during a critical time after giving birth. Having the resource of the CDC/Youth Center has helped decrease the stress of juggling work demands and caring for a newborn with the stress of distance learning.”
In some way, shape, or form, everyone is affected by the pandemic. No one exactly knows when it will end, and we’re all wondering, is this going to be the new norm? Regardless, Team Travis continues to get the mission done and will continue to support our Airmen and their families who are impacted by distance learning.
If you are a military family and need support while your children continue distance learning from home, please contact the following:
Airman and Family Readiness Center
School Liaison Officer