Deja-vù, denial and quarantine

Hey there, people, it’s almost spring, and this week I was in class! As you know, I have been diligently avoiding in-person teaching, unless it was absolutely necessary (which often istn’t). I firmly believe it would have been our respinsibility to minimize contacts so that what’s really necessary can go on, and it’s necessary for […]

Hey there, people, it’s almost spring, and this week I was in class!

As you know, I have been diligently avoiding in-person teaching, unless it was absolutely necessary (which often istn’t). I firmly believe it would have been our respinsibility to minimize contacts so that what’s really necessary can go on, and it’s necessary for children to go to school. I do not teach children: I teach grown-ass people who should know how to manage their resources and their concentration while following an on-line class.

…though most of the times this is pretty much what you have to do in order to get the attention of adults in an on-line class.

Therefore, I was not in class because I took this decision lightly: I had the honour of being involved in a digital skills program for unemployed youngsters promoted by the European Union and you can’t assume this kind of people can afford a decent hardware machine to perform the kind of tasks we require them to perform.

Hence, this week I was in class. And I felt pretty good about it.

It’s not of course the same of teaching in-person as it would be without the virus alert: lots of my activities usually involve kanban boards, playing cards, paper prototyping. I wasn’t able do any of those things, as students have to stay 2 meters apart and I’m required to refrain from walking around unless it’s necessary to provide assistance.

Thiugh I completely understand the restriction, this is how good I feel about not being able to walk around while I teach.

If teaching on-line is a completely separate thing from teaching face-to-face, I would say that this distanced variant is a third thing entirely, and requires its own tools, techniques, support materials and infrastructure. And I gladly learned how to effectively teach on-line, but there’s something inside of me that’s screaming at the idea of learning techniques to cope with this mixed situation. Mostly because I still refuse to believe this situation is here to stay. I still refuse to believe our lives are going to be like this from now on. It’s called denial, or so they tell me. Watch out for when anger kicks in.

When madness kicks in, I might even start writing positive reviews of DC Movies.

Anyway, as I was saying, this week I was in class.

As you might know, Italy is dealing as well with these new, more aggressive variants of the virus, and we’ve been selectively locking down specific areas where one of these variants is detected. As it happens, two of my students are coming from another town in Northern Italy. So we were there, doing some light visual scripting, when the headmistress walked in and warned me that the specific town was entering one of the stages of lockdown, the “strong orange”, which is one step away from the red, total lockdown.

And it hit me.

Precisely one year from now, I was in class. And there we were, doing some building with our LEGO bricks, when a lady started freaking out because the virus had manifested in her town and it was being locked down.

Deja-vu is when they change something, right?

This was on Tuesday. The two students went home and I did too.

On Wednesday, I had a bottle of wine with a friend. At fucking 4pm, because our government decided it was a good idea not only to enforce a curfew at 10 pm, because people behave more idiotically in the dark, but to put on tol of that a restriction on alcohol being served after 6pm. Because prohibitionism always works, right?

Thursday, I was in class again. The two students from the deep orange frontier were following remotely, which added another layer of complexity. Have you ever taught a mixed class, with people present in person and other people connected via web? It’s a fourth fucking way. And a way I’ll unfortunately have to explore. Because, even if I refuse to believe that social distancing is here to stay, I have to deal with the fact that people and companies got a taste of on-line classes and it’s going to be difficoult to drag their asses back in class.

That’s a skill I’m going to have to level up soon.

While going home on Thursday, I unfortunately had a close encounter with those kind of people who behave idiotically in the dark. I usually take the underground, and this particular school is 45 minutes removed from my house. I had generally been positively impressed with the way people behaved on any other journey: everyone respected the fact that you can only occupy two seats out of four in order to respect distancing, and there were lots of trains going around, so they were generally fairly empty. Starting on Tuesday, I had to admit I was seeing more people going around and I even had to stand up because a guy occupied the forbidden seat next to me.

Real-time footage of my reaction

Thursday night was a complete, overcrowded mess. I got off a couple of stops before mine and I continued my journey on foot, finding out that outside wasn’t any better. I live in the canal district, when the nightlife is (or used to be). It was 7:30 pm, way after the alcohol ban. There were loads of people in groups of five or six, sitting on the canalside, buying beer from ambulants, invariably without the mask (because how can you drink beer while wearing one, which is kind of the point), mostly sharing a joint.

After my prolonged stay in Amsterdam, I get nauseous at the smell of marijuana (and not from overuse: because the whole city was soaked in it). But the smell wasn’t the thing that made me want to throw up.

Between that and the sense of deja-vu, I arrived at home pretty convinced of one thing.

Next week, we’re all going to be locked down.

The end is extremely fucking nigh.

I was closer than I thought. And it doesn’t matter that since Monday my whole region will revert from being “yellow zone” to being “orange zone”.

Do you remember me being in class on Tuesday? Well, on Friday I got notified that on that day I came in contact with a positive case. Accoding to our idiotic regulation, the contact in question doesn’t qualify as a “close encounter”: it does only qualify as such if you stay closer than two meters for more than fifteen meters. Which means that, during the whole last year, only my companion qualifies. Regardless of that, we’re all in quarantine for ten days. Who thought we could level up so soon?

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