With schools, libraries, the YMCA, and other places closed due to the coronavirus, Baker County parents are striving to find ways to keep their children safe and entertained.

Harmony McAlpine, 45, decided not to go back to work and is staying home with her children.

A concern McAlpine shares with other parents is her children’s education.

“We’re more concerned about the school, if they are going to put them online for right now,” she said.

“Them having their education is highly important to me,” said Ashlyn Gazley, 29, who is working with her children to learn at home while Oregon public schools are closed through at least April 28.

Many parents are working on helping their children continue to learn outside of school with math, reading, and other subjects.

And having spring break, which was scheduled to start Monday, extended for at least another month isn’t proving popular with some students.

“I don’t like it, I want to go to school,” Gabby Wright, 11, said Thursday while she and her mom, Kristina Corr, were picking up meals at Baker High School.

Parents are trying to keep their kids entertained as well as educated during this long, unexpected school closure.

Board games are a big hit with some families.

Mairi Nielsen, 44, said Clue is a favorite with her kids. Nielsen said she does take her kids to the park, allowing them to play with friends.

“They miss their friendship and the social aspect (of school),” Nielsen said.

Geiser-Pollman Park hasn’t been as full as previous years, but families do take their kids for a short time to let them run off some energy.

Megan Liby, 35, takes her two children to the city’s largest park when the weather is nice.

“I mean, yeah, it’s safety, stuff like that, but they need to get out, too,” Liby said on a sunny Thursday at the park. “They don’t want to be stuck inside all the time. We’re only here for a little bit, we don’t stay long,” Liby said.

Liby and her children paint rocks for Baker City Rocks, play board games, and she’s working on some learning exercises.

“Now, with all that’s going now, we’re not worrying about academics right now,” Liby said.

Corr, 30, utilizes the town’s resources and takes her children out of town for their outside time instead of to the parks.

“I’m trying to find different activities,” she said. “I know it’s only like day two, but they’re bored. So trying to keep kids active and engaged and still trying to find ways to get them learning.”

Brieanne Bain, 30, is attending nursing school and will be taking classes online while caring for her three kids — Brylee, 10, Cooper, 8 and Emma, 6.

“I don’t know if I’m being too relaxed or not, but I worried two years ago when there was a really bad flu virus going around and I was really worried about my children and this time, with this virus, I’m not so worried about this,” said Bain, who brought her kids to Geiser-Pollman Park on Thursday.

Bain said the virus precautions haven’t affected her financially, but the library closure has altered her family’s schedule.

Others affected by the changes are day care centers. April Whitebread, 52, of April’s Day Care, said other day care places have shut down due to the growing coronavirus concerns.

“We’ve always been real big on the germ thing,” Whitebread said.

Whitebread is caring for her regular kids whose parents work at the hospital, medical office, UPS, and other businesses that continue to operate.

She has added new conditions to caring for kids in order to keep them healthy and safe.

“Any sign of an illness and we have to ask them not to bring (their kids),” Whitebread said. “I’m hoping everybody is cautious a bit.”

(1) comment

Dan Collins

I've got a major bone to pick with parents who have been taking their kids to the park, and then letting them touch playground equipment that a 100 other kids have touched. Where are your minds?

I know everybody wants to get outside. And you should. But STAY AWAY from each other. And don't touch things that other people touch. The city should rope off the playground until this virus event is over. It's a public health hazard.

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