Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s back to work I go!
I am happy to report so far, so good. I am not back full time on campus, just three mornings a week. The rest of the time, I will continue to work remotely from home.
I must admit it felt very strange being back. It is also stressful. I haven’t left my home very often, so just driving, just being outside is sort of scary, but also sort of wonderful. I have always been a people person, and I’ve missed seeing other people for sure. But it is so hard not to hug my co-workers who I haven’t seen in person in six months!
I pretty much stay in my office most of my time there, but I do come out to help students or staff with whatever they need. The university installed big plexiglass shields at the desk. There were two of them, with about 8 inches between them. Don’t you know that everyone was sticking their face through the opening? We moved them, so they are much closer together now.
I have had students casually stroll into my office, or rather attempt to. I stop them before they get one foot through the doorway. My office is not large, and I guesstimate that it is about 6 feet or so from my desk to the door, so that is close enough.
I haven’t seen anyone not wearing a mask, thank goodness. Today I helped a student who was wearing a loosely fitted bandana. It was so loose she had to hold it in place. I wasn’t sure how much policing I am supposed to be doing, but my boss pointed out that she may not have known better. The university states implicitly that masks must be worn and further states no bandanas or gaiters are allowed. We do have disposable masks, so if I see her again, I will let her know the rules and offer her a mask.
I have missed the library so much! I missed my office and my two giant monitors – at home, I work on a small laptop. I open the library, so I get to come in during the morning quiet. I turn on all the lights, unlock the doors, and get ready to help whoever comes through. The first week was mostly directional help. There are classroom and/or building abbreviations that completely baffle students, with good reason! We have a handout with an explanation of all the abbreviations, which students really appreciate.
In early 2019, during the middle of our academic year, the American Psychological Association, APA, put out a new book with lots of changes in how papers are to be formatted. Most of the classes at the university use APA and it is the area librarians help with the most. Now that there is a new edition, all the students who were finally getting used to the 6th edition have to pivot to the 7th. We waited for the new school year to get started and now the fun begins! There is definitely going to be a learning curve, for me and the students.
Meanwhile, I really have to give Lynn University props for tackling the pandemic the way they have. They have bent over backward to make the campus as safe as possible. They installed HEPA air filtration systems. In addition to the excellent custodial staff, they contracted with a company to come through and disinfect the building multiple times a day. They changed the semester from 16 weeks to 4, 4-week block classes instead. And any class with more than 12 students is divided in half, with half going to class two days a week, and learning remotely the other two days, and vice versa. Most students take one or at most 2 classes per block, so that really limits the number of people they are coming in contact with.
They also contracted with CVS to set up a rapid testing site on campus. It may not be the most accurate test, but at least it is available quickly. We also have to do an online assessment every morning before coming to campus. Visitors pretty much have to jump through rings of fire to get on campus so we are not seeing anyone that doesn’t belong there.
Every department determined how best to utilize their staff on campus. A friend who works in one area of admissions is on campus one day a week. In the library, every librarian got to express their preferences and were scheduled as close to that as possible. We have a couple of librarians with young children who are starting school remotely, another with immune issues, a couple that are in the age bracket danger zone, and so forth. The end result is that there are only one or two librarians on campus at any time.
My chief responsibility is to hire and supervise student workers and run the circulation department. I had many students graduate in the spring, a few others who went home and are continuing class online, and so forth. So I had to hire a lot of new students, about 15 or so. That has been a process as we recently switched to new software that is not going as smoothly as one would have hoped. But we have an amazing IT department, and I know they will work it all out quickly. I have been training all my student workers on Zoom, another first for me, and that has not been without its hiccups. But I hired smart, engaging students and I have every confidence that they are going to be an asset to the library and the university.
I did a Zoom party last week so my new students could “meet” each other and some of the librarians. One of them told us while they hadn’t heard about any parties in the dorms, there had been parties, densely packed parties, off-campus with no masks. The university is being very tough about this and sent a “scary email,” as one of my students called it, to all the students on campus warning them off of partying and not wearing a mask.
All that said, as colleges around the country are starting back up, the news has been less than reassuring.
My college reopened. Now I’ve got COVID-19, along with nearly 500 other students. (University of Notre Dame)
Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities – 26,000+ Cases; 750+ Colleges
I am the first one to admit that were my 17-year-old self starting college today, I would be partying with the best of them. That age group thinks they are smarter than everyone else, especially their parents and teachers, and that they are untouchable, even immortal. “The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so (University of Rochester Medical Center.)
I’m trying not to worry too much. My immediate concern is that I have gained the “Covid 19” and need to work on losing it! My husband has been really trying to get his blood sugar under control so to help him, I’ve cut back on the baking and the carbs, which is also good for me. I will not eat at work so I’m back to doing a modified fast at least three days a week! Let’s see if it works.
As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!