Not New

“Yes, but what are we supposed to do if a student gets COVID?” ask professors who want a lockdown. “They will fall behind!”

The quarantine is five days. Five. Students have gotten sick and missed class forever. It was never a problem until now.

People are pretending that these are completely new, insurmountable obstacles. And that’s nuts. I’m tired of hearing lists of utterly unremarkable symptoms described in hushed tones as if nobody ever got a scratchy throat until now.

Last semester I had one student who had COVID. She missed two days of class. Ooh, what a horror. Let’s lock down forever to prevent this terrible tragedy.

No French

The state tries to get rid of as many tenured professors as possible, so it changed the retirement rules. If you are retirement age (around 55+, not a typo), you either retire before July 1 this year, or you lose a large chunk of your retirement.

I might lose my entire French program by the end of this semester. I don’t blame the professors but this came entirely out of left field.

(For those who don’t understand how this works, once somebody retires, I can’t just hire somebody else. I can’t hire anybody at all. These positions are gone forever).

Remote Learning for Kindergartners

I always wondered what “remote learning” means for kindergartners, and now I know. In my nephew’s school, kids get three 30-minute Zoom calls spaced out throughout the day.

If you have or recently raised a 5-year-old, you know that this is ludicrous. Getting a kid to a screen at specific times 3 times a day is impossible even with a very disciplined, unreasonably mature child. It means organizing the whole day around these Zoom calls. Constantly interrupting play, which kids at this age don’t tolerate well. Dragging them home from the playground. It would be a nightmare. My kid would simply refuse. And I wouldn’t blame her.

What kid wouldn’t begin to associate strongly negative feelings with the concept of “school” after this? They are 5, they only know what they experience.

Another thing you need to make this work is an adult who does absolutely nothing else all day. Somebody who doesn’t have a job or any other kids to take care of. Somebody with the nerves of steel and the conviction of a fanatic. And a couple of maids.

There’s absolutely no pedagogical value in sitting in front of a screen for a 5-year-old. There’s no scholarship that justifies it and a lot of scholarship about the negative effects. The only reason this is done is to justify paying the teachers a salary. The calls are spaced out throughout the day to demonstrate that the teachers are working their assigned hours. For this worthy cause, children and parents are sacrificed.

The worst part is that this is done a week at a time. If people were told that this is it until the end of the school year, they could explore other options. Homeschool. Leave. Whatever. But this is always “just for a week or two.” And then there’s a new announcement about two more weeks. Or not.

I’m having a panic attack just writing about this. Think about what this is doing for women’s employment. Imagine if you spent years creating a career for yourself. And then that’s it, you are fucked. Your job is now to torture your kid with endless Zoom calls 3 times a day. Your whole sense of self, your understanding of who you are is destroyed. Your parenting strategy is screwed. (Mine, for instance, is all about no screens). For nothing, for a neurosis not of your making.