(CNN) — Some working moms are being forced to put their careers on hold during the pandemic.
It’s because childcare options are different now from closed daycares to kids learning virtually at home instead of at school.
Teacher Sarah Parra says, “It didn’t really make sense for me to go to work and pay somebody else to be home with my own kids.”
For the first time in 4 years, Sarah Parra won’t be able to meet her new class of pre-school students when the school year begins in two weeks at Smyrna First Baptist School just outside of Atlanta.
Parra says, “I’m constantly thinking about my students and what they need. So, it’s going to be hard.”
Instead, she’ll be teaching and taking care of her own young children.
When the Cobb County School District announced that the school year will begin online, parra was forced to rethink her working life.
Parra says, “We have always organized our finances to where we could live off of one salary.”
Pre-Covid, women made up half of the US workforce.
But, as noted in a recent report from Goldman Sachs, that participation rate is directly tied to accessible childcare.
With millions of children starting the school year virtually, coupled with fewer daycare options, an enormous number of Americans are now forced to come up with childcare solutions before they can return to work.
Parra says, “When I’m at home I’m a wife and a mother. And I feel like being a teacher is just another part of my identity and that’s really what’s going to be missing.”
Turns out many of those solutions involve working moms putting their careers on hold.
Harvard Assistant Pofessor of Exposure Assessment Science Joseph Allen says, “There are enormous societal and individual costs to school closures that are not being discussed. It has to be an absolute priority to get kids back to school for their own good, and also to get the economy regoing.”
Piedad Sanchez had to leave the cleaning company she worked for in order to take care of her 3 children ranging in age from 8-11.
Piedad Sanchez says, “I had to quit because at this time for me, my kids are more important. We are more tight with the money.”
Sanchez is also investing her time within her own community, helping families navigate language barriers to online learning, which has disproportionately set back hispanic students:
Sanchez says, “They maybe don’t understand the language, but I help them.”
As Congress continues to debate another stimulus bill, the school and childcare crisis is one of the few areas that has bipartisan support.
For moms like Piedad and Sarah it’s too late.
Sanchez says, “There is no option. Because I have to maybe ask somebody come to watch them, but there is no option for me.”
Sarah Parra says, “They can’t hold my place for me for when school goes back, which makes it a little unsettling not having an end date for all of this.”
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