Arts & Life, Coronavirus

CSULB student balances motherhood and study amid COVID-19 pandemic

Long Beach State student Fabiola Gutierrez’s morning routines used to consist of getting her three children ready for school, dropping them off and heading to campus. 

Now, sociology major and first-year transfer student, Gutierrez finds herself distressed amid the transition to online instruction.

“I actually never liked online classes, I remember taking one online class in my community college and I did bad,” Gutierrez said. “I have to be in a classroom to do well. Online is just not for me.”

Gutierrez said her main struggles have been juggling her family duties with her online work. 

“Every time I go to a store, I’m over there for two, three hours so once I come back, I have to help them, feed them, cook for them, help them with their homework,” she said. “At the end of the day I’m stressed because I have my school stuff to do, so that’s the issue right now.” 

Despite her troubles with online courses, she said her professors have been supportive and attentive to her questions and concerns.

“All my professors have been informative about what they expect from us,” she said. “I’ve contacted all of them because of my struggle learning from online courses.  Most of them have been very lenient about giving extra time.”

Gutierrez said she initially had difficulty adapting to her transfer from Cerritos College, then struggled, even more, her first semester at CSULB and had to take medical leave.

“I did really bad. Transitioning was very hard. I did bad and I fell on academic probation,” Gutierrez said.

She had been looking forward to improving her grades this spring. She went as far as doing extra credit work mentoring students in the Long Beach School District. 

She said resources on campus that she previously started using for the first time prior to the outspread of COVID-19 are now no longer available to her in person.

“This semester I was actually taking advantage of all [the campus resources] because of me failing and academic probation,” Gutierrez said. “I wanted to try new things in order for me to succeed, and now, I’ve tried making appointments online but it’s hard. It’s not the same as going in, talking to someone in person, and telling them your struggles.” 

At home, Gutierrez said one of the hardest things is to find ways to keep her three children entertained while making sure they are keeping up with their own schoolwork. She said having courses via Zoom has proven to be a struggle as her children innocently interfere.

“I’ve had Zoom classes which I am new to. I didn’t even know how to mute myself from it and how to set up my camera,” she said. “It was frustrating and then my kids walking in when the professor was talking, ‘Oh my god, it was embarrassing, but they have to adapt too.’”

According to Gutierrez, she and her husband have been able to maintain employment by assisting her husband in his business that distributes seafood to restaurants.

Despite all this, Gutierrez has created a positive impact in her Paramount community. 

As a member of the Paramount Community Facebook group, she heard about elderly residents in her area having trouble accessing food in grocery stores. 

According to Gutierrez, she posted on her group page offering assistance to any elders in the community by giving them rides to supermarkets.

“I did a post telling [the group page] if anyone knew an elder person that needed a ride or anything to let me know,” Gutierrez said. “I have my own car; I was able to drive people around. That was my first thought, ‘Oh my God them, the elderly people.’”

Gutierrez also said she saw a post on her group page of a young mother that had an autistic child. According to her, the young mother’s post indicated she was having trouble locating black beans because her child only ate black beans.

“So, I had a lot of black beans and I was like I’ll give you some, I’ll spare some with you, my kids eat any type of food, any type of beans so I’ll spare you with some black beans,” Gutierrez said.

As her family begins to slowly adapt to their new way of life, Gutierrez said she wants the coronavirus epidemic to end. But for now, as long as she gets B’s in her classes, she said she will be fine.

“At this point, honestly I’m not expecting A’s in my classes. At this point a B or C is good,” she said. 

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What to know about COVID-19

Common symptoms:

● Cough                   ● Fever

● Tiredness            ● Shortness of breath

● Chills                      ● Shaking

● Loss of taste      ● Loss of smell

● Muscle pain        ● Headache

● Sore throat

Symptoms can begin to present one to 14 days after initial exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

How is it transmitted?

● Close contact with someone, such as shaking hands or hugging.

● Contact with droplets from a sneeze or cough.

● Touching of eyes, mouth or nose with dirty hands.

Are you at risk?

● Have you traveled to an affected area within the past two weeks?

● Have you had close contact with someone who is infected?

If yes to either, and you begin to present symptoms, call your doctor and ask to be tested. 

Prevention:

There is currently no treatment for COVID-19, but the CDC recommends measures to contain the spread of the virus.

● Self-isolate; avoid contact with others including pets; only leave your house for food or medical attention.

● Wear a face mask.

● Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds; sanitizer must contain over 60% alcohol to be effective.

● Clean “high-touch” areas every day.  

● Maintain a six-foot distance from other individuals; abide by “social distancing” recommendations. 

● Avoid gatherings with more than nine people. 

 Alert health officials if you think you have COVID-19; monitor your symptoms.


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