This week marks a full year of me working (mostly) from home and dealing with the pandemic. Last March I thought we would be back in the office by April. Back then, everyone was talking about the “new normal.” For months, people have waited for things to go back to the way they were before the health crisis began. Here we are now, a year later, still wondering when this will end. As I have said last year, things will not get back to “normal,” so quit waiting for it to happen.
Recently, I watched a lecture during which the speaker briefly talked about then (pre-pandemic) vs. now. He said that the old times are not coming back and it is not even something we need to mourn. There were things back then that we thought were OK but now we know needed improvement. Humans are creatures of habit. Even though I enjoy reinventing things, I also see no reason for change if things are working well. However, turbulent times shake you up enough to prompt you to rethink the world around you. Change is needed. Not for the sake of change but for the sake of actual improvement and advancement.
Check out my old article on change: Change is ever-changing.
In the past couple of weeks, I spoke a lot with people from different states and we compared different restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is fascinating to be able to hear how different regions deal with the issue and what impact it has on the residents of those areas. I know that for me, winters are rough when you are freezing for months on end and do not get to see the sun at all for a large part of that time. Add onto that the inability to do anything “fun” like going out to eat, to the movies, or to a museum, and you have a great recipe of success… for depression. Today, I am grateful to not be in that situation but I know some of you might be, and so I hope that this will soon change. Spring is right around the corner! (I hate the concept of Daylight Saving! My body knows that the evil alarm clock is lying to it. No, it is not 7am. It is 6!!!)
What is the best human motivator? Studies show that money is NOT the motivator that is most sought out by employees. Instead, people prefer to feel like they are recognized for their work (pat on the back) and that they feel they are a part of something bigger. However, money definitely helps and California is a great example of that. Right now, there is a lot of money being promised to districts of that state if they choose to re-open in-person learning for K-12 kids. In NROP: We don’t need no education., I shared some of my own arguments for the re-opening of schools. That was back in July of last year. It is hard for me to hear that some states are still stuck in the past, insisting on remote learning, waiting for the pandemic to “blow over.” We have been through this already – waiting is not an option because we are NOT going back to how things were a year and a bit ago. The state of Oregon requires that schools offer in-person learning beginning mid-April for K-12 kids. Chicago and New York opened their schools for elementary students, but have no plan for high-school students as of yet.
A photo used in the first article that I linked (about reopening in California) shows kids sitting six feet apart, surrounded by plexiglass. Yes, they still have to wear masks. All of this seems like a nightmare for me. I think back to the days when I found it difficult to read what was written on the board and I had to check my friend’s notebook to see what I should put in mine. (Glasses changed everything.) Apparently, this is not something unique to me. Many others have shared the same story with me. Now imagine having this issue, having something obstructing your view even more, and then not being able to copy your friend’s notes. What would you do? If I was to guess, those kids probably gave up on taking notes. That sounds like a recipe for failure during exams, etc.
These measures might be helpful for teachers, though, because they minimize the chances of people talking during class, passing notes, and cheating. That is definitely something I can understand and sympathize with, but I also feel like it is a vital part of a kid’s social life during their time at school.
Giving kids the option to return is crucial in my opinion. Unfortunately, like with anything else, people are already worried that the monetary incentive will lead some schools to re-open at minimum capacity (ex.: only once a week) and still receive the money. I know a few people who transferred their kids to a private school months ago because they just could not wait to see if their old school would reopen or not. Not everyone has that ability, though.
While I am a big proponent of working from home (for those that want to), I am against full-time remote learning for kids. Explanations for that have been pouring in from all over the country. In Ohio, one of the poorest school districts, reported many kids skipping school and falling behind on their studies. What did they do? They took the option of remote learning from most of the high-schoolers and brought them back (part-time) for in-person educations. Those that were allowed to stay at home were those that attended at least 80% of their classes and were getting passing marks in them. I was stunned to read that only 15% of students fulfilled that criteria. What a low bar… Although the schools requested kids to come back, not all of them actually listened. It is very disheartening to see kids disinterested in learning. The same kids who refused to go back to school were seen on the streets before winter hit. What does that tell you? No, they are not really worried about getting infected. And the district that is one of the poorest in the US is not going to get any better if kids skip school and hang around on the streets. The students that came back are happy and report that their grades have gone up significantly, compared to when learning from home.
Another important aspect of our lives that hit the headlines recently is culture. From NROP: A Trip to the Movies. we know that many miss being able to go to the cinema. In France, people are asking the President to reopen theaters and allow performers to do their jobs. The article states: “Theatres, cinemas, art galleries and other cultural spaces have been shut since October when France was put into its second full lockdown. Much of the economy reopened in mid-December but cultural venues, like bars and restaurants, remained closed.” Over the weekend, during the French Oscars, an actress stripped on stage and revealed writing on her back saying “No culture, no future.” I have to say that when I first saw that, I thought that the one without culture was her. To me, Corinne Masiero is a name I hear for the first time, but I assume she must be big in France. However, I have a feeling that the French still have a future to look forward to, even if it does not involve seeing this actress’ behind. On the other hand, I do believe it to be silly to allow people to go shopping and to malls but keep the movies and theaters closed. It does not make much logical sense.
Let us stop fixating on what was and focus on what is. Instead of waiting for things to go back to the way they were, we need to acknowledge that they will not and use this time as an opportunity to reinvent certain things that will help propel us towards a better tomorrow!
- Is there anything you redesigned in your life due to the pandemic?
- Are you holding tightly onto the hope that things will go back to “normal” or are you ready for the new world?
- What is one restriction that you like/dislike the most?
- What do you miss most about your life from before March 2020?
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