Week 2: The New Abnormal

I have lots to be grateful for today, including the fact that all three of us managed to telework in Zoom intensive ways and not break the internet.

My first remote session with my class went well. We are all adjusting to the changed circumstances and ready to make the most of them. Because we were shifting into the more web-intensive part of the semester anyway, our transition from a hybrid course to a mostly asynchronous experience should go pretty smoothly. But I was (pleasantly) surprised at how many people want to keep meeting on Zoom, at least once a week, at least for now. This is a really strong and engaged class. Lots of them are graduating, and of course they couldn’t imagine that this is how their last semester would go. There’s some adjusting going on all around, for sure. I’m hoping to recapture the sense of community that made the first half of the semester so lovely, and have deployed Slack and some good team building activities to help with that. Also, whoever thought that real life in the USA might be as tumultuous as Soviet History? I saw several wry smiles when I said I had an awesome unit on Chernobyl  planned. Maybe we’ll do something on environmental disasters in comparative perspective.

But yikes, the situation in New York is grim. The Johns Hopkins map lists over 25k confirmed cases there alone, nearly half of the national tally of 53k  and rising. 210 people have died from the virus, just in New York.  Virginia, by comparison, seems calm. But only by comparison. There are now 290 confirmed cases here, an increase of 35% in 48 hours. The map shows swatches of blue (cases) spreading toward the Southwest part of the state. I wonder how long it will be before the whole map will be filled in?

COVID19 in VA 3-24-20
COVID-19 Cases in Virginia as of 3-24-20 from the VA Department of Health: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/

I’m developing a routine for the new abnormal, which involves tuning out the pandemic for several hours in the middle of the day and a couple of hours before bedtime. This is a luxury that people more directly affected by it don’t have, but it’s helping me keep calm and carry on.

To end on another positive note. One my favorite grad students of all time — the first person I asked to join the teaching team for GEDI way back in 2016 defended her dissertation in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Via Zoom, of course. Congratulations, Dr. Noble!

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