Today was the first time I’ve been in a campus building since late March when I stopped in to gather things from my office following our shutdown on March 16th, 2020. I mainly walked over today to see how it would feel. It was after 6pm, so I had the building to myself as far as I could tell. I’ve had lots of anxiety about being back on campus. I’ll be expected to be there full time starting next week and I have a lot of apprehension about the safety of that plan. It mainly seems as though are plan is lots of stickers and signs and magical thinking.
It’s hard to know how it will feel when there are people actually roaming these hallways. Being indoors with people will be the highest risk activity I have engaged in since the pandemic started. Everything I have read about how Covid-19 is spread through aerosols tells me that hand sanitizer stations really only offer the illusion of safety.
Many people have worked through the summer (often unpaid – not me, I’m on 100% contract), to make a plan for students to be back in face to face instruction and living on campus. Every meeting I’m in, I leave with more questions than answers. In some ways the answers can’t be known until everyone is back and we see the gaps in our planning. However, it feels like our planning isn’t fully grounded in reality.
I have ups and downs each day. I worry about people getting sick. I am excited to see the students. I worry about the impact of masks and distancing on the learning environment. I miss having a real office to work in. I worry about confrontation and conflict with people who want to politicize safety. I worry about feeling angry all the time about the risk that people are being asked to take. I worry about having to manage the chaos of pivoting back and forth between face to face and online. Mostly I worry, and that’s not like me.