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13 August 2020

First Day Teaching in a Pandemic

Yesterday was my first day back in person at Georgia College. Here are some observations/thoughts:

  • I went in deeply anxious. I think administrators and other people in authority have failed to adequately consider the psychological and emotional effects of the return for staff, students, and faculty.
  • I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the signage, organization, and facility arrangements. Things are far from ideal or safe, but they exceeded my expectations. There are still many problems to solve, though (e.g. How do I use the overhead projector with a big, plastic screen in the way?).
  • The administration promised us face shields several weeks ago if we requested them, but as of yesterday, they were not available. I had heard, though, that University System of Georgia administrators were patting themselves on the back for this availability to the press.
  • Whenever outside of my office, I wore a mask and a face shield (purchased with my own money). I was surprised how winded I became from lecturing in the mask, especially since I am a relatively fit and healthy person. By the end of the day, I felt like I was starting to acclimate to it, but it was quite difficult. If my tolerance doesn't improve, I will be forced to regularly dismiss classes early.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by how compliant the students were with the social-distancing and mask requirements. I didn't see any major or flagrant deviance. I did have to remind a couple students in class that masks need to cover their noses as well as their mouths, though.
  • The first day of the fall semester is always somewhat stressful, but this was by far the most exhausting day I have experienced in my 16 years of teaching.
  • I continue to hear disturbing stories from my colleagues who live in Milledgeville (I commute) about how students, particularly Greeks, are regularly ignoring social-distancing and mask recommendations and requirements both on and off campus. This bodes poorly for everyone's wellbeing.

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