In the days leading up to March 11, 2020 emails flew fast and furious. The first COVID case in Connecticut, formations of task forces up and down the hierarchy of my work, ever compiling campus directives, blocks on institutionally funded travel, recommendations against personal travel, and campus events with over 100 people cancelled. All framed with a massive amount of recommendations on sanitation both personal and inanimate objects.
Wednesday March 11 was the pinnacle — the beginning of around five steady days of continued world narrowing announcements. After Spring Break all classes would be virtual until April 5, 2020, all campus events until then were cancelled no matter the size. Staff would continue to report to their offices as usual — but no members of the public or students.
Thursday saw an abrupt change to the previous days notice, the campus closed completely for Spring Break. Introducing telework, a true oddity in my 16 years. I look back at the massive work of myself and my colleagues with an odd haze of delirium — how we orchestrated hundreds to working from home in such a short amount of time — let alone thousands of students. Ever lengthening days in my department became a norm. Outside of work the cancellation of a trade show that I was scheduled to travel to that following week. At the time postponed until March 2021 — now May 2021. Friday echoed the Broadway shutdown, forcing a trip planned for just that weekend no more — with shows set to reopen April 13, 2020, then January 2021, now maybe May 2021.
That Sunday brought the first of many to follow memos — telework for all until at-least April 5th, I believe the first time at-least was introduced into the structure of those sentences. The weeks that followed, a blur of emails, changes, new software, new systems, and changes to years old procedures to accommodate our new world fit. Physical access to local resources became a dance of emails, authorizations, and tracking. Spaces and items you used were cleaned once you left them. April 5th came and went, the semester moved fully online, commencement cancelled, and on… and on.
We adjusted, the 10 hour days subsided, things opened up, things closed back down. The seconds commute to my office became more normal than the half hour commute of my past. My collection of unlistened podcasts grew larger by the day. The new normalcy of only seeing people in boxes on screens sank in.
A year ago — 2020 — both the longest and fastest year of my life.
As for 2021? — I think it’s trying to win on the fastest. 😳 ▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░░░░ 19%