I was at the EDEN conference this week in Dublin (excellent conference by the way, congrats to EDEN and the DCU team). Although I’ve done a couple of conferences, this was the first time seeing a lot of people I used to bump into regularly prior to the pandemic. It made me reflect that much of what happened during that time (2020-2022) is already fading from memory. This prompted me to look back over some journals I kept at the time, and I was right, I had forgotten most of the unusual work and roles we took on then, plus the stress of worrying about family, and the continual stream of lockdown variants.
Michael Ward at Swansea Uni started an interesting Corona Diaries project during this period, which capture much of this sense of anxiety, puzzlement, anger and uncertainty. My daughter even did some work inputting the entries. Looking through those and my own entries made me think we should share some of our experiences from the higher education perspective, before our human capacity to recover and move on means all those moments are lost in time, like tears in rain, or at least face masks in the bin.
So here are some edited highlights of my covid diaries, I’d love to hear yours:
18th May 20 I have 8.30 scrums most mornings now for the microcredential course. I wrote for this until 5.30
had a day that covered all my academic roles today – course author, senior manager, researcher, journal editor, administrator, speaker, fund raiser. Finished after 6
I finished at 6.30 and went outside for a neighbour’s socially distanced 70th birthday. Everyone in the street came out and they poured champagne in glasses we left at the end of the drive.
Long working day again but then I’m on leave. I feel the problem of having too many roles at the moment – they’ve all increased by 20% because of the pandemic so I’m failing on multiple fronts. Went to bed by 9.30 and slept for 9 hours.
I did a webinar this evening for EDEN with Catherine Cronin on use of oer in the online pivot, then had a quick meeting with people from COL on doing another webinar. It is the year of webinars.
27th Sept [daughter] has had her first week at uni, she has settled in well with her flatmates. In Glasgow and Manchester Covid has spread wildly through student halls and it’s surely only a matter of time before it hits them.
18th Oct We are likely to be entering a short ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown on Friday, for 17 days in Wales. Numbers have been rising and the hospitals are near to overload.
26th Oct [daughter’s] flatmate has been diagnosed with Covid, and [daughter] thinks she has it too. She rang me at 1.30 last night and today was in tears. It’s difficult enough learning to live with 6 strangers, but having to negotiate how they’ll all deal with pandemic and self-isolation adds another layer of stress and tension to it.
21st Nov I did an interview for the BBC and Natwest this week, both for web articles on the shift to online learning.
It’s been a busy week, we needed to get a microcredential course in presentation by tomorrow, which meant writing a week’s worth of work and doing some odd tasks.
6th Dec The Welsh government announced last Monday that from Friday pubs would close at 6 and not be allowed to serve alcohol. Most have sensibly decided that pubs not serving alcohol are rather pointless and have shut. I went to the pub last Tuesday, and that was it, no pubs for christmas or new years. There is a rumour that we will be going into full lockdown again on 28th December.
It was announced today that we’re going into full lockdown again on the 28th, and I rang my father today to say we’re not coming up before Christmas.
20th Dec Wales went into lockdown last night, unexpectedly and without warning – we had been told it was coming on the 28th. Shops are to close, no meeting up, no travel. It means I might not even get to see [daughter] over the xmas holidays. It plunged me into depression last night – not just the lack of contact but the necessity to keep finding ways to be positive, to dig again and manufacture methods of staying active, being supportive and restructuring the day.
13th Jan We’re deep in lockdown now, with around 1500 deaths a day, and 50,000 infections
I’ve had a few insomniac nights, getting 3-4 hours sleep each night, but it shouldn’t be a surprise really when ALL of this is going on.
17th Jan We’re still in lockdown now, I forget what it was like not to be in lockdown now. We’ve been in some variety of it since September and that was after a four month one.
I did a keynote for the H818 conference today. I’ve got another keynote on Monday for Belfast Met, and completed a review of e-learning rubrics for UNESCO this week.
Mar 14th (after getting a puppy) Yesterday I felt claustrophobic, trapped in one room mostly, still in lockdown, it felt like we’d been taken hostage by two canine terrorists
4th Apr I went to see [daughter] last week, as we’re now allowed to travel within Wales. We met up in Brecon and she walked Posey. I had my first vaccination jab on Friday. It was in a large leisure centre in Pentwyn. I found the experience strangely moving in its quiet efficiency.
I expect lots of you have more intense or interesting journals from the time, but I found it fascinating just how much of this I had forgotten.