Last year was a blur for Miranda Turner, but she remembers the day her kids’ school shut down like it was yesterday. On a Friday in March 2020, Arlington Public Schools, in Virginia, announced that it would close the following Monday because of the newly circulating coronavirus, sending working parents like Turner scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids.

An attorney with the punishing schedule to prove it, Turner already employed a nanny to watch her 2-year-old, but she anticipated that two other children—her 4-year-old and her anxiety-prone second grader—would have trouble adjusting to lockdown. So she approached her boss and told him she needed to work from home a few days a week. “I didn’t really ask for it. I just said, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ Because I felt like this is what I had to do,” Turner told me.

Across town, Meredith Gade was going through orientation for her new job as a nurse at a local…

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