Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ben White, 41, of Gorham, along with his wife, Melissa and daughters, Lily, 11, and Tessa, 9, are shown during a past family outing. These days, the family is staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo courtesy of Ben White

“We’re doing the best we can, to do our work and schooling from home.”

Ben White, 41, of Gorham, along with his wife Melissa and daughters, Lily, 11, and Tessa, 9, are similar to many families, staying at home during the coronavirus crisis. Ben White was one of several Portland Press Herald readers who responded to our questions about how they are coping.

“I work at UMaine-Farmington and my wife works at IDEXX. Our girls are in fourth and sixth grade,” he said.

“We’ve created a daily schedule of blocks between 45 mins to 90 minutes in length for the kids that include time for academics, physical activity, creativity, foreign language, and play. They are appreciative of the structure after the first few days without.

“We just knew that hours of unscheduled time would have the kids constantly looking to us for something to do, and we needed to be able to get work done.

“Now that online school has started, they’re able to connect with their teachers and classmates, which they are enjoying.”

The schedule, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes time for schoolwork and chores. For physical activity, “We do all sorts of things. I’ve got a fitness background (Ben is the director of fitness and recreation at UMF) and we have a makeshift gym in the basement. But, sometimes, it’s just walks. Today, we did a movie fitness challenge. Certain events in the movie required certain physical tasks – for example, a certain name is said, so you do five push-ups.

“We’re doing French and Spanish. My sister is a schoolteacher and used to work with native Spanish speakers so, twice a week, (the girls) Facetime for lessons. I know just enough French to educate pre-teens.

“The online schooling is going well. Their classes (Lily with Gorham Middle, Tess with Village Elementary) are now connecting on Google Meet. And they can get all their assignments through Google Classroom.

“The combination of social isolation from the rest of the world, and constant proximity to each other, is challenging to manage, particularly among sisters who like to bicker. We did manage to have a Facetime session with family from three different states … and it was nice to be able to connect with everyone.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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