Friday, March 27, 2020

Covid-19 in Arkansas

Our public schools have been closed for two weeks, and I finally convinced Dr. Skull that they weren't going to open on April 1 (which is the date the schools have put out for "re-evaluating" the closure).

He emailed the school board to ask if any provision was being made for subs. They told him to file for unemployment.

So yesterday he went and did that. (He tried to file online, first, but with about half the state trying to file, the website was overwhelmed.)

The unemployment office was swathed in plastic -- I guess to keep out the virus? Who knows? -- and there was a bin to drop his unemployment form in. Now we wait.

I'm guessing the Arkansas Governor's school isn't going to run this year either. He teaches there in the summer.

The kid is still home. We're going to keep him here through Passover at least, and then -- like the public schools -- re-evaluate. Meanwhile, he is working with his professors remotely. From eavesdropping on his sessions I have learned that kids today now call Covid-19 "the rona."

Today we have to drive him up to see his therapist. That should be fun.

As for me, I am fretting about teaching online. I've never actually done it, and my one attempt at learning Blackboard convinced me I never want to use that platform ever in my life.

I did attend a session at our university last week, meant to show those of us who hate Blackboard how to use Blackboard. Once again I walked away convinced I never want to ever use that platform ever in my life.

I've been using Google Classroom. Now I've figured out Slack, mostly. Between those two, I'm hoping I can get through the rest of the semester.

But oh my do I hate this. I love the classroom, the interaction between the students, the way we all, by talking together, reach bigger truths than we would on our own. Chatlines on slack and me posting notes on Google Classroom -- this is not going to be nearly as effective.

And it will be like 110% more boring.

But it's better than one to three percent of my students dying, obviously.

What else? I am still taking my nightly walks at the park along the Arkansas River. When this all started, I was the only one there, ever. Well, sometimes there would be one other person. But usually it was just me and the dog.

Each day, there have been more and more people out walking their kids and their dogs and themselves. Yesterday there were so many people there I had to park on the road instead of in the parking lot. One kid was there all alone on his bicycle, riding around and around and around the big loop.

If nothing else, the plague is giving people the leisure to exercise.

We all carefully stayed six feet from one another. Except my dog. He kept trying to rush up to the other dogs and make friends. I kept pulling him away again.

I'm still cooking so much more than I usually do. I made enchiladas yesterday, and am considering black beans, except it's probably too hot for that. Maybe potato soup.

What's going on where you are?



nicoleandmaggie said...

Blackboard's inability to play nicely with Safari is driving me crazy. We were told we cannot return graded assignments via email so now I have to do it through blackboard and it is awful. I can't use the uni's fancy google products because my uni email is outlook based, not google based.

My discussion class went really well in Zoom. It's only 12 students (and a now silent transcriptionist), so I think that helped. Only one student had major connectivity issues, but she was still able to chat via the typing function. Also we watched a video which worked because it is available streaming from the Uni library. I couldn't pause it and have commentary at specific points, but I was still able to talk about it after using the whiteboard function on my ipad.

Proctoring a timed midterm was not great-- I just have to trust that they didn't cheat (the ones who might have cheated got low grades so if they did, it didn't help). Several students couldn't figure out how to get their photos of their exams in order and turned into a single pdf even with two weeks of being told to figure it out given their own technology and lots of students providing helpful tips... I got some exams two hours after the exam was supposed to have ended (these folks didn't do very well, so even if they used that time to cheat, it didn't help). A couple of my usually A students did poorly on things they aced last semester or just not answering all parts of all questions. I'm putting that down to either the stress of the disruption, or the announcement two days before the exam that everybody can switch to P/NP if they want... not realizing that a C for a graduate student is an NP, not a P. They learned that part yesterday.

I've recorded mini-lectures for my math class that I will post if anybody has connectivity problems during the actual lecture. I'm worried that people will stop attending and just watch the mini-versions though. I'm also not investing in putting them into groups to do group work-- I'm just trying to get through the required material in a way that they understand. We'll see what happens. I have a lot more students in this class unless a lot of people decide to take the drop the class no penalty option before next week.

About time for a zoom faculty meeting...(sigh) I'm actually having to wear something other than pajamas today because of it. (Half my students wore pajamas to class on Wednesday ... so did I.)

Jenny F. Scientist said...

My classes basically got cancelled but I am still getting paid by the university so ??? Public schools are going online, which I learned by getting an email from my kids' teachers. We almost certainly already had the plague. I didn't know it was possible to be this stressed out AND this bored at the same time.

delagar said...

"...stressed out AND this bored at the same time."

This is exactly my mood.

N&M: You're doing a MUCH better job than I am. Go you!