If you’re like me, you’ll be returning to face-to-face teaching this fall, after a year or more of teaching remotely. Perhaps you’ve returned to face-to-face already.
What did you, or will you, say to students on the first day? I’ve been thinking a bit about this, and I’m not sure. It would seem strange not to say anything about what we’ve all been through, and are still going through, since the pandemic began. But what to say?
Which I know isn’t what you’re getting at. I think it’s still not clear whether you, or anyone, will be face-to-face for very long. My own courses remain hybrid, with online lectures and (in theory) in-person labs. But we’re poised to switch the lab if we have to.
I hate being the pessimist here. But Canadian universities fumbled badly on the issue of vaccination requirements. They were blindingly obvious back in May, but my university (as an example) waited until August 20 and still hasn’t announced details. I hope I’m totally wrong; but I’m not envisioning smooth sailing.
I pointed out that we’ve all been living with anxiety, grief, anger, and feelings of helplessness and that that gets into your body. I said that they might be feeling complicated emotions about coming back to campus. Me too. I told them that while I was full of joy to see them, I was also dealing with significant anxiety spikes: I’m going to be working from home a lot, alone, after 15 mo. with my partner, and my gut insists it’s going to be just like lockdown and that this time I’ll break. It feels important to be strong and calm for them but also honest and vulnerable. I’m dealing with Stuff and feeling a little scarred. We all are. And we can still rejoice and take care of each other and move through the day.
I also talked about stress injuries and how people in the wilderness medicine community think about preventing/mitigating that: https://www.nols.edu/media/filer_public/32/46/324688bc-e90b-421f-b56e-6d5ae66cf07d/near_miss_and_expedition_trauma_response_-_laura_mcgladrey_brendan_madden_2018.pdf
Seeing ScientistSeesSquirrel’s comment: It’s worth noting here that my university is requiring that everyone — faculty, staff, and students — be vaccinated unless they have an approved exception and that we wear masks for now unless we’re alone in a room with the door shut and that everyone gets tested weekly for the first three weeks. So I could take all that for granted.
“You are not safe, and we are here now just because our government and university do not care about your health, only about politics. Until most people get vaccinated and community transmission tends to zero, the war against corona won’t be over. Remember that vaccination is a public health strategy, not an individual strategy. Wear N95 masks, keep your distance, and fight for your rights!”