There is everything to write. And nothing.
Things are constantly changing, constantly demanding adjustments. And things are endlessly boring and unchanging.
A month ago, we were all working under the assumption that fall semester would be much like the current semester, with significant numbers of colleagues working from home for medical or other reasons (they've been pretty good here about allowing folks with small children to work from home to be able to care for children whose daycare or schools are or may be closed at any time). And a further significant number of classes are in weird hybrid or cohort models that no one likes (where, for example, on third of students can fit in a MWF classroom with a Covid Cap) and the rest can't, so the class is split in thirds and students actually meet in class once a week, with the instructor figuring out something for the rest of the week. People have been creative in making courses work that way, but they're far from ideal.
Given that expectation, we had scheduled courses on line with no meeting times, or on line with meeting times for livestreaming, in cohort models, and in regular old face to face models with small numbers socially distanced in large rooms. That left, of course, many regular rooms unused in any formal sense, since many rooms are designed to fit 20-30 students, but almost no courses run with 10 or fewer students.
And then on Monday, everything changed, and the administration announced that we would all be in person, even those with medical reasons linked to Covid. The Dean said that the only reason a class could be on line was to meet a pedagogical need.
So we started replanning to put courses face to face in regularly capped rooms, without social distancing.
Except some people really have health problems and worry that even in fall we won't have sufficient herd immunity. Nor will we require students to have vaccines, and we, of course, won't know their vaccination status, and won't be allowed to ask.
Immediately, requests came in from folks who want to remain teaching on line. And they're still coming in. Some are from folks with medical reasons, some are from folks who've moved elsewhere, at least partly, to be with loved ones while they teach on line. (Here's work/life balance questions for real.)
I've been tending to say that so long as they have good pedagogical reasons...and I hope the Dean and higher ups will accept those pedagogical reasons.
The thing is: I walk by the special parking lot where higher level administrators (not the Dean, but above the Dean) have specified parking places. #9 is the Provost's place, for example. And none of those spaces tend to have cars parked in them when I come to work, at whatever time I come to work. Nor when I walk to class. Nor when I go home in the afternoon.
And when I'm in meetings on line with higher ups, it's easy to tell when they turn their cameras on that they're not in an office. (The Dean almost always is, as is one associate Dean.)
If they don't feel safe working in their little fort building with separated offices and going to meetings in empty rooms on campus (there are a LOT of empty rooms that could fit a meeting of ten, say), then it irks me that they expect my colleagues with documented medical problems to meet with students several days a week in fall with no social distancing. (NO one can say if there will be a mask requirement.)
I'm less sanguine about the folks who want to live elsewhere while they teach on line here. It's not just that I think face to face generally makes better educational opportunities, but also that we do a lot of service work on committees, and they shouldn't expect everyone to accommodate their desires when it really is a lot better to meet in person normally. On the other hand, we all make noises about work/life balance.
In any department, there's likely a small percentage of people who are "checked out" to some extent from departmental life. Often, these folks do a great job teaching, but shirk committee work. Or they do great research and teaching, but shirk committee work. And yet we all know that committee work keeps the gears moving and gets things done. You want classes to teach? There's a committee that works to make sure the curriculum makes sense. And so forth.
It seems like teaching on line makes checking out easier to do, and harder to discourage.
I'm teaching a small class, all in person, and trying to make it as much like a regular course as possible. And mostly, it's great. They're discussing and it's lovely.
One person had to quarantine, and so I livestreamed the class. And now some people seem to have decided that this means they can go somewhere and just tell me they'll join the livestream. I'm frustrated by this behavior, but don't know quite what to do. I don't want students to feel forced to come to class if they're unwell or should be quarantining. But I also don't want to livestream so that a student can go visit a grandparent. On the other hand, better that they join the livestream? It's frustrating and hard.