This was going to be a different Day 1 post. It was going to be about our walk from Knettishall Heath, which is the official start of Peddars Way, to Little Cressingham, 15 miles up the path. And I’ll still write that, because it was a wonderful trip and I want to share it. But things have changed and I want to document that too.
Between the final time I looked at my university’s health guidelines and email messages before leaving London (Friday morning GMT) and when we landed in DFW for our connecting flight to St. Louis (Friday afternoon CDT), the UK had been put on the watchlist. Everyone returning from there had to check in with the health services and get instructions. Our layover was three hours long because we cleared immigration in no time (more on that later) and our flight was delayed, so we hit Starbucks and found some seats. Big cup of tea in hand, I started calling the university as instructed. I dialed two numbers and was told at each that I should call a different one (the first suggested the second, the second gave me a third). The third number had a recorded message which had clearly not been updated since the changed policies and claimed the health service was closed even though the recording went on to say it was scheduled to be open at the hour I called. At that point I gave up and called my department office to tell them TheH and I were on our way home and probably destined for 14 days of self-isolation. Our administrator, who was on another line dealing with a colleague’s more serious travel crisis, emailed me phone numbers when she was free, but they were the same numbers I already had. So I gave up and read the news until our flight boarded.
Yesterday was Day 1 of our self-isolation. I call it “living from home” rather than “living at home” or “working from home” because everything we do has to radiate out from here. We’re still working, indeed our work time right now is greater than it would have been without the shutdown since we’re figuring out how to transfer in-person courses into distance learning. We’re luckier than our poor students, since we are in our regular home. They left a week to 10 days ago thinking they’d be back in a week, and some of them didn’t even go home until they found out they couldn’t come back to school.
We spent yesterday unpacking, assessing our situation, and catching up with work. I sent emails to my grad teaching assistants and to my two classes. I made up multiple ToDo lists, just writing down things as they came to mind. There is a lot ToDo in the next week. I’m very grateful to have the extra week of “break” because shifting to online teaching will require some deep thinking about how to do it. I’ve never taught a course online, although I’ve considered it in the past; ironically, the one I’d thought of doing is the Privacy course I’m teaching now. But a full, planned-ahead online course is quite different from what we have in front of us now. More than half the semester has been taught in person, so now it’s a matter of figuring out how to revise the syllabus, requirements, and teaching approach, as well as to compress six weeks of material into five. At least I don’t have to change the finals week requirement. But I do have to consider whether group projects, which are the big assignment in the second half, are doable.Read the rest of this entry »