I should be attending the Joint Mathematics meeting right now but that got canceled 2.5 weeks ago. I am sad that I do not get to be energized by my disciplinary colleagues or celebrate professional accomplishments and interesting ideas. This was to be the first big conference in-person since the start of the pandemic.
Part of me was grateful for the respite. It gave me a chance to be available for important work (like teaching my classes during the first week of the quarter and also, being present for the start of the search for a Dean of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences).
I had made it through the week of remote teaching and was looking forward to meeting my students in-person. I wanted to believe when they said the second week of classes would be in person. I planned accordingly. Can I just say how I hate Friday communications that change everything on a dime?
At noon today, President Ana Mari Cause and Provost Mark Richards of the UW University system wrote an email to the community about the spread of the Omicron variant in our region. Let me quote:
In light of these increased disruptions, instructors will have additional flexibility to choose the modality of their classes through Jan. 28. Instructors may hold in-person classes if they also can provide an option that allows students to participate remotely, or they may keep their classes online through Jan. 28. This flexibility will help manage various Omicron-related disruptions, including increased numbers of student absences.President Ana Mari Cause and Provost Mark Richard email, received at 12:05 pm, Friday January 7, 2022.
I read it and thought, “if it is my choice, I want to be in-person. ”
I confirmed for my students yesterday we would be in person starting next week. We discussed alternate plans for those that cannot attend in person. I was ready to take the risk.
At 3:15 pm today, as I had just started attending a 2.5 hour search meeting, the SIAS Dean’s office sent out guidance on remote instruction option through January 28th.
As per President Cause’s email from earlier today…..
…we strongly recommend that all in-person courses be shifted to remote for at least next week (1/10-1/14), giving faculty time to consider if and how they might effectively provide remote alternatives to their in-person sessions through January 28th.
I already have a plan. But if most of the campus is going remote—I can’t be the one professor asking them to attend in-person. So even though it is my choice, I don’t really have a choice do I?
I was open to in-person if 100% of the students agreed. Here is the message that I sent this evening:
Within 20 minutes I had 4 responses:
Remote it is.
What are the odds that two weeks of remote turn to three? Should I just concede and plan for remote through January? I really wish it wasn’t my decision because I so desperately want to be in person.