Yesterday I already discovered that a scheduled holiday is entirely different when compared to a forced holiday. The involuntary nature of having to be at home even spoils the potential sense of freedom. And doubly so in an adolescent. My stepson had spent literally the entire spring break lying in bed watching videos on Youtube, but now he insisted upon going outside to play football with friends (something which was utterly impossible to suggest doing during said holiday). He was already bored at 09:00 AM, yesterday as well as today.
Today I spent most of the morning videoconferencing with fellow teachers of English, which starts out like it’s quite a bit of fun but then turns out to be ever so less efficient than meeting in person. Still, we managed to conceive plans for all grades. We need to plan as though things will be back to normal early April, but we also need to keep in the back of our minds that perhaps this entire school year will need to be rounded off with distant learning. How would you objectively decide whether a student is fit to move to the next grade if you can’t really test them? Out-of-the-box thinking is required.
Throughout the videoconference, my wife was sniffling and sneezing in the background. She has that sometimes, and has had it ever since I’ve known her. But in these Corona-suffused times, it does worry me more.
I visited school briefly. There were no children, and only a few colleagues who had chosen to meet face-to-face rather than via Microsoft Teams. I collected some paper-based protocols needed for near-future speaking tests in fourth grade (to be done via Teams) and went back home. The weather was lovely – sunny with a light breeze. In literature and movies, this is the kind of weather accompanying scenes of happiness and joy. It made me think back to the May 2000 Enschede fireworks disaster, where 23 people died and a whole neighbourhood was levelled against a background of blue sky, brightly shining sun and twittering birds.
Yesterday evening I watched some television and marvelled at the advertisements. Obviously, these had been booked in advance of the whole Corona thing, still blithely promoting trips abroad, special supermarket sales and other things that are not on people’s minds at the moment. The insanity of it all could have been complete if Albert Heijn’s regular “Hamsteren!” (Dutch for hoarding) campaign had been broadcast.