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

April Fournier in the backyard of her Portland home. Fournier is juggling her job remotely while helping three children who are schooling from home, one of whom has autism. She worries about the health of her family, with her husband and oldest son both working at grocery stores. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

April Fournier of Portland is used to a busy balance of work and family. But since the coronavirus outbreak, the demands upon her have increased – and so have her worries about the family’s health.

She and her husband, Kevin Gray, have four children at home: 11-year-old twins in the sixth grade, a high school junior and a 2019 high school graduate. Fournier, 40, is also the special services manager at an early education center that serves 250 children, ranging from infants through pre-K.

“At the Promise Early Education Center in Lewiston we have been working hard with our staff to engage with our families through recorded videos, video calls and ideas for the families to do at home,” she said. “As the special services manager my focus has been on making sure that the children who have IEPs (individual education plans), mental health services, or behavioral challenges have some sort of support at home. That’s not easy with a distance learning model.

“My own child has autism and is a sixth grader at Lyman Moore Middle School. His IEP was recently updated to make sure he has instructional support for math and language arts. He has a difficult time paying attention in a traditional class. This has been a whole new world for him. Not an easy world, but one full of challenges. We’ve been trying to navigate assignments solely on a computer. Math is frustrating for him even in the best of situations. This distance learning model has created more frustrations. He does receive ed tech support a few times a week, but not every day and only for short periods of time.

“This new world is challenging for all of us, but we’re fortunate. Fortunate (I can) work from home and still get paid. … (My son) is essentially getting a full-time special educator (me) as support, but I also have work and meetings and responsibilities during the day that pull me away from being a resource. There are lots of families out there who are stuck. No childcare, no income and schoolwork and bills still roll in.

“The final piece of this complicated puzzle is the worry for all of us. My husband works at the Portland Food Co-Op and our oldest son works at Shaw’s. They are in essential service roles, engaged with the public every day and I’m worried every day that they will get exposed and bring it home to all of us. With my husband and two out of four children with asthma it’s an even greater worry that someone is getting sick soon and if the odds we hear are any indication, it’s getting more likely every day.”

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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