Do You Have a Long Term Plan? (Plague, Day 48, April 20, 2020)

As new routines form from the raw clay of the Pandemic, Monday mornings are becoming the time when I assess recent information that I’ve learned from Zoom chats with family and from six-feet conversations with neighbors, and then make a game plan for the week.

My game plans don’t exceed the five or six days ahead, because no one has a crystal ball. On this morning’s walk/podcast — a new and positive element of my new routine — a science fiction writer on The Daily said that the virus could be with us for a full four years, until a vaccine can be developed.

I’m not ready to make those sorts of year-long plans yet, but my week-long plan is formulated using recent news, like information from my neighbor that lost her mother-in-law, a super healthy 70-year old, to the virus. Two weeks ago, she lost her grandmother. In my complicated calculus, I’m also including news about the growing number of friends and family who are being laid off or furloughed. So, health and job security must be paramount in any plan.

Work-wise, we’re okay at the moment, as long as I make sure that Steve can devote all his attention to his job. So, my job is everything else. Check. I can do that.

Health-wise, we’re also okay. We’ve been practicing social distancing very strictly for weeks; I started making changes a week before everyone else. I’m still going to the post office and supermarket once a week, but I devote the rest of the day to decontamination. Even with masks and Clorox wipes, we might get sick, but our chances are slim.

Our plans for Jonah’s college education and Ian’s high school education are still in flux. I’m gathering useful gossip from the parents’ Facebook page for Jonah’s college. I have to make some phone calls to the local community college this morning to see if they have an online summer catalog.

Having a 20-year old boy cooped up in the house for this long is like looking at a hungry tiger pacing his cage. Jonah has been unbelievably philosophical about having to live with his parents and missing out on college. Truly an A+ kid. But I’m worried about him; this situation feels unhealthy. We talked about letting him get a job and then quarantining him in one corner of the house, but there are too many downsides to that plan.

Ian’s school is staring online classes this week, so I’ll have to see how that works out before I make some drastic changes. I’m working with a school behaviorist to correct certain autistic quirks that sometimes makes life at home difficult right now.

We’re still in one of the nation’s infection hotspots, so I doubt we’ll see any reopening here soon. While it’s impossible for me to get my head around the idea of living like this for years, I should start to come up with plans that go beyond Friday.

I’ll be back later this afternoon with some more upbeat posts — links and photographs.

40 thoughts on “Do You Have a Long Term Plan? (Plague, Day 48, April 20, 2020)

  1. Really see no way for an individual (or individual family) to have a long term plan. I think you’d have to be a Saudi prince to make one, and then only because of the authoritarian repression you have available to you. I don’t think that even the billion-billionaires (OK, I know there aren’t any trillionaires) can construct their own reality, though some of the rich seem to think they can.

    I am looking towards what we might be able to imagine in WA. I’ve been tracking the data (imperfect though it is). The COVID+ data is incomplete, but the death data is more complete (especially in states that are trying to track it well). WA makes the daily totals available in a spreadsheet. We really are seeing a decline in deaths, declining now for the last 3 weeks. I see March 30th as my eye balled peak, and the IHME modeling predicted the peak is a week later than my eyeballed peak. Roughly, the peak seems to have occurred about 3-4 weeks after physical distancing began. IHME suggests that we could decrease physical distancing and switch to containment around May 18th.

    IHME says that New Jersey might be a few days past the peak deaths (though that estimation gets better the further you are from the date, since not all deaths are reported and attributed right away) and suggests June 1 for a switch to containment.

    I’m not counting on this model (or any other). I think the key to decreasing physical distancing is going to be a willingness to reverse course as needed, not to see either predictions or changes as being permanent moves in one direction.

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    1. Agree with this. My current priority plan is how we are getting through the rest of the day with two working parents handing off childcare for two young children while working. My long term plan is thinking about when we need groceries, and how we will get them (which store, when, is there an online option?)

      Signs are hopefully that we really have turned a corner in the greater NYC area. If so, maybe in a month or two we will have to figure out going back to work. That’s too far off to even really plan for now, though. (One parent works, other home? How does that work? How does childcare work? Schools are presumably closed, but the younger one is in daycare, is that open? Will we let him ho to daycare? If I have to go to work, I wear a mask. Gloves? Subway? If the city is empty, and I have to go in one day a week, should I consider driving? How much is parking? And on and on. Until the immediate crises passes, the short term is all I can plan for.

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  2. And I don’t know how we take into account events like the protest by the Eyman gang of Republicans in Olympia this weekend. The crowd estimate is supposed to have been about 2500 — which is big and from all over the state. And, Olympia was not previously a hot spot, with only 1 death.

    Tim Eyman (an anti tax activist running for governor who has paid multiple fines on various fraud charges and was recently filmed on a security camera stealing an office chair from an office depot) was pictured wearing black gloves and no mask. I’ve referred to the protests, beach openings, etc. as “experiments” and if there are no consequences I would only be pleased.

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    1. I don’t know what those protests can accomplish besides serving as a giant petri dish. If they get what they want, are people going to really do non-essential business more often? Except for demanding (successfully) more ways to buy liquor, people don’t seem to be eager to open things up around here.

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    2. As I think you pointed out, there’s definitely a purely political purpose to these protests. Tim Eyman is getting press and that is a goal. There are fringe elements of Proud Boys (white nationalist group), tea party activists, gun activists, . . . .

      But, as you say about liquor stores, there are those who think specific things should be more open — state parks, most notably and camping and beaches. There’s a lot of space out there, and there are people who think they can use it responsibly.

      I do think people want to see what the plan looking forward might be.

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      1. Trump should be controlling these people, but he’s egging them on. Terrible. I saw an anti-gay marriage poster there, too. It’s such a political mess mixed in with undefined, economic, social and emotional stress.

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  3. Personally — my life isn’t all that different. I’m a stay at homer by inclination. HS kiddo is doing OK with his work.

    College kiddo is very sad not to be physically in college, and, like Laura, I do worry about the unhealthiness of this return and regression. She is a freshman, so it’s been easy to revert in some ways, to both of our roles, a pause in her growing independence (and in my letting my baby bird fly). She had a dream internship lined up — literally a dream she had since she was about 10 years old. Fortunately, her intern mentor has decided she can do her internship remotely. But, it will not be the same experience (which had involved an apartment of her own in the city, enjoying the company of other interns, and experiencing all the culture the city had to offer). I am considering whether she should have the opportunity to live in her own apartment. But, that’ll depend on whether physical distancing has been decreased enough that we would be able to get together.

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    1. bj said, “College kiddo is very sad not to be physically in college, and, like Laura, I do worry about the unhealthiness of this return and regression.”

      My suspicion is that the kids who are restive about isolation are probably losing the least from it. My kid who seems happiest in isolation is the one who would probably benefit most from more of a social life. I was thinking that I’d need to bug that kid to have some sort of social life in college, but that may not even be an option for 2020-2021. GAH!

      Speaking of college and social lives:

      I had a dream last night that I was at some sort of prospective college parent event and one of the parents suggested that we had a lot more to talk about–so let’s all meet tomorrow night for Mexican food and a pitcher of margaritas! I am a non-drinker, but it sounded like a lot of fun.

      And then I woke up.

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  4. My own long-term plans start with ‘finish the book I’ve been writing for 6 years’ and depending on costs, some home improvements, like fixing an old deck. I will also look for another job! But I’m mentally planning for a year or possibly two’s sabbatical. I’m not that optimistic about finding work right now, esp. as I have homeschool to run.

    I kind of hate that we have the time to do these things at the points at which we have less money for them.

    For my kids, my 9 year old I’m not that worried about – we have the means to help him learn and grow and he’s kind of a “I spend my free time on Khan Academy” kid anyway. My 14 year old is in a special visual and media arts program, and his high school is doing a decent job at most things, but I am worried about grade 9 math. My husband has the knowledge but not the teaching credentials. Instead of paying for decking, we might enroll him back into some 1:1 online tutoring, or I may look for a second online class for him to complete. But again, I’m laid off, so the choices are a bit more heightened in terms of making sure we have value for money.

    For the summer, my 14 year old is going to enroll in some courses that are focused on computer skills – video editing and animation. These will hopefully add to his art education. Originally he was going to be a LIT in a summer arts camp, but I am doubtful that here in Toronto we’ll be at that stage of opening back up. We’ll look at what courses are available and useful but our amazing library system gives us access to free online training in software via Lynda.com, which is HUGE.

    Quite honestly for my 14 year old, if the lockdown continued and he WEREN’T in a special program, I’d consider pulling him out of school and just have him repeat the year later, and spend a year on other things. When I was in university, I remember that linear feeling of not wasting time…but looking back, there was a point at which I should have just taken a gap year; it would have prevented both burnout and a loss in learning (I was sick, but determined to ‘muscle through.’) Both of my kids have interests that the school can’t teach, and my husband and I have fantasized about “world schooling” them in the past, so this might be our chance to teach them Everything We Know That School Doesn’t Teach You. But I’m not sure my kid could stay in his program, so there’s that.

    That’s the benefit of my kids not being as prone to go backwards…they are regular kids, they could slide a bit but it’s not the same as kids that need special ed supports. It really highlights how important that funding is.

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    1. Jenn said, “For the summer, my 14 year old is going to enroll in some courses that are focused on computer skills – video editing and animation.”

      That sounds really good.

      “Quite honestly for my 14 year old, if the lockdown continued and he WEREN’T in a special program, I’d consider pulling him out of school and just have him repeat the year later, and spend a year on other things.”

      Our oldest was having a very stressful senior year right up until the closures. Maybe we were getting into a less stressful and more fun portion of the school year anyway, but it’s noticeable that she’s much more chill.

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  5. Hmh, now I’m feeling like I should be planning more for my teen. Need to sit him down and talk. Some of the planning depends on what level of social distancing we will be engaging in. For example, if he can get together with his grandfather, they have plans to make science videos together, instigated by my father.

    I cannot plan for my college student. She would reject anything I suggested and is mostly wise about her choices.

    I don’t have a book in me, but have been wanting to organize my photography further and work on my art, but find myself too distracted and unfocused.

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  6. We are in good shape in terms of jobs, as long as our universities don’t fail (mine somewhat more at risk than my husband’s, and his isn’t going to fail). I will not be required to go to work in person until at least September. I am an experienced online instructor (though it is definitely not my preference), and I can do that too. My husband works for a school of public health, so the chances that they will require employees to come in to the office if there is any public health risk are slim to none.
    My son can put off college for a year if need be. He would be thrilled to stay at home. The only thing he seems to miss about school is band. I think he wants to go to college in fall, but I’m not sure uncertainty and the likely changing situation would be great for him.
    My daughter is in Ithaca, living in seclusion with her boyfriend and his apartment mate (also a good friend), and having the time of her life. She does her study abroad classes, which she describes as ridiculously easy, and she goes for long walks, and she eats healthy food because her boyfriend is into healthy food/no sugar/no meat. I have already been thinking about her taking a year off, but we’ll see.
    Both my kids are summer babies and young for their grades/school levels, so red-shirting them is appealing. But I refuse to make any specific plans for now. I’m just collecting options….

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    1. Wendy said, “My husband works for a school of public health, so the chances that they will require employees to come in to the office if there is any public health risk are slim to none.”

      YAY!

      “But I refuse to make any specific plans for now. I’m just collecting options….”

      I’ll write more in a bit (I’ve been homeschooling), but at the moment there isn’t much point to longer-term plans. I’m not even sure when our last days of school are…

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  7. I have to make some phone calls to the local community college this morning to see if they have an online summer catalog.

    Our community college summer schedule is posted online and two of my three courses are already full.

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  8. We had a surprisingly fast senior parent zoom tonight, discussing graduation, prom and the senior trip to Italy. What I learned today:

    –We can get a full refund for Italy! Nearly all the money we put in can be refunded now and then the rest in February. I find this a bit too good to be true–but I’d like to believe it.
    –The senior parent consensus is to go for the full refund now and then possibly rebook a Christmas break trip to Italy at the end of the summer. (Our senior loves the idea of a Christmas trip. I’m up for either that or just keeping the refund, but am a bit nervous about getting neither.) Hopefully, it will be clearer by the end of the summer whether the Christmas trip is doable or not.
    –Apparently, there are a lot of snags involved with the graduation regalia that we ordered. The factories are mostly shut down. Apparently, the yearbook plants are also running way behind.
    –There’s a lot of uncertainty about prom and graduation at the end of June, so plans are currently tentative. One of the possibilities for graduation is a small ceremony in town. Another option (and my husband liked this one a lot) was a drive-in graduation.
    –I asked, “How do you do a social distancing prom?” The principal said that the hope is that restrictions will be lifted by then, but suggested line dancing as an option.

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  9. Here are our long-term plans:

    my part-time job–currently coronavirused (I work for a psychologist who can’t do her job right now)
    last day of school–??? (seriously, I have no idea, especially for the senior)
    graduation–???
    prom–???
    husband’s ability to make extra money–coronavirused/possibly coronavirused
    teen summer jobs–NOPE
    senior trip to Italy–???
    summer camp for the 1st grader–maybe one week in July? (I’m at a loss what we do all summer if there’s no travel, no water park, no library, no zoo, no children’s museum, no playgrounds and no camps–or if they’re open and we don’t feel safe going.)
    medical/dental/therapy apts.–maybe some in May or June? or not?
    2020-2021 school year–???
    2020-2021 college–???
    Thanksgiving trip to WA to see family–???
    foundation and siding repairs–???
    spring 2021 Disneyland trip with my family and my siblings’ families–???
    more serious job for me spring 2021–NOPE

    I’m looking forward to the return of the following: my cleaning ladies, school, Starbucks, Panera’s, traveling places other than the grocery store and non-6 ft. socializing.

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    1. We still have a series of 4 apts. in May for the 1st grader to do psychoeducational testing with a psychologist. This is really, really important for her to get a good start in 2nd grade. (Now that I’m seeing the books the 1st grader is being assigned for school, I have a growing suspicion that her 1st grade teacher is underestimating her reading level.) It would be OK if the testing got rescheduled for June or July, but we really need to get this done before school starts in August, even if 2020-2021 is going to be remote.

      We’ve got a bunch of odds and ends like that to deal with over the summer for the 1st grader, but this is the biggest one.

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  10. We’ve decided to update our wills. So that’s our long, long term plan. Right now, in our state, it’s not possible to get it witnessed and notarized over the internet. Our lawyer said there are legal changes in the works which would make that possible.

    Other than that, no long term plans. I believe our passports will soon expire, which makes foreign travel exceedingly difficult. It may make US travel difficult, due to Real ID.

    Other than that, I plan to do more walking, and teach the kids how to cook adult dishes for themselves. And we’re having “family movie nights,” working through movies the younger generation should have seen, but has not yet. So far, the movie that’s held up the best has been Bladerunner.

    “Wild, Wild Country” was an interesting documentary. “Tiger King” was weird. I recommend “Citizen K.” Any other interesting documentaries/old movies?

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  11. Cranberry said, “And we’re having “family movie nights,” working through movies the younger generation should have seen, but has not yet. So far, the movie that’s held up the best has been Bladerunner.”

    I’m waiting for the end of school to unleash “family movie night” on the teens.

    One of my first movies to show is going to be “Goodbye, Lenin!”

    I don’t know about your experiences, but our teens have often hated 80s “classics.” For example, our kids couldn’t stand Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Have you tried “Documentary NOW!” the parody series? Some of them are very good. I like the Mexican cartel one.

    We also liked Episodes (British TV writers attempt to adapt their acclaimed UK show for American audiences). There’s a lot of cringe early on, but the characters get more relatable.

    The shame is that we go so quickly through the stuff we like that it’s hard to find something to watch when we’re between shows.

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    1. af184793,

      Not that particular song, but the style is very familiar! Very 70s/early 80s!

      I had a Polish teacher who had a whole textbook based on a 1980s Polish soap opera.

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  12. I want to take a moment to be chicken little and say the sky is falling. Just a moment.

    My freshman told me she can’t buy any clothes because she needs to hoard her money for food for when she graduates. I think there is an economic flaw in that plan. But I am not sure.

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    1. bj said, “My freshman told me she can’t buy any clothes because she needs to hoard her money for food for when she graduates. I think there is an economic flaw in that plan. But I am not sure.”

      I think that basic wages and food will probably continue to have a fairly close relationship, so if she has a job in future, she should be able to buy food. But she can’t get a first job without clothes!

      However, it wouldn’t be crazy for her to want to save for her first apartment or a young adult emergency fund.

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  13. Some developments:

    –The gifted camp that my family has been involved with for years (both as students and teaching) is cancelling their usual June camp.
    –Hometown U. is doing their orientation online.

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  14. 5 weeks in, I think we’re finally having one of those idyllic homeschool afternoons that people talk about.

    Up until a week or two ago, the 1st grader and I had been grinding through her assignments, the day a blur of the 1st grader toiling over written work and me scanning and uploading her work. After about two weeks of that, I started complaining to the teacher about it being very dry and very time-consuming. There have been occasional excesses since then (like yesterday’s 35 minute spelling video), but things have been noticeably easier since about Easter (fewer assignments, more optional assignments, less uploading).

    Today, we were nearly done with school by lunch (which is my idea of a good day). After that, the 1st grader and I read Energy Makes Things Happen and I mentioned that her (generally ignored) marble run set is analogous to the example in the book where a rock on top of a hill has potential energy. The 1st grader and her high schooler brother spent the next 20+ minutes building and enjoying a marble run taller than the 1st grader. After that, I pulled out National Geographic’s First Big Book of Why. After we read the section on why boats float, the 1st grader wanted to try the suggested experiment with trying to get Play Doh to float. This didn’t work for us, but it expanded into a very satisfying project involving origami paper, wax paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a big bowl of water.

    This isn’t exactly educational (I don’t know enough to make it truly educational), but it’s not a screen, and the 1st grader is having a good time. I have a box of Pillsbury dough for the 12th grader to make up with the 1st grader later and I’ve just ordered a kids’ science experiment book that I was planning on getting this summer.

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    1. The boat and marble run is educational in my opinion. That kind of hands on building/making helps build an intuitive sense of how things fit together. I see kids on my niece’s robotics team excel when they have that sense.

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      1. Yes! She’s a first grader and doesn’t need the f=ma or Archimedes principle. A grasp of how things fall and float is important enough at that age. Not good enough, mind you, for a college student.

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      2. Marianne said, “The boat and marble run is educational in my opinion. That kind of hands on building/making helps build an intuitive sense of how things fit together. I see kids on my niece’s robotics team excel when they have that sense.”

        Yay!

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  15. I see that Laura’s wondering about Zoom use in school.

    I see from the comments on google classroom that the 1st grader’s classmates have been begging to do a/another Zoom. I think it would be nice for the 1st graders to do it once or twice before the end of the year–but primarily for social reasons.

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  16. I feel like everybody has their own homeschooling experiences. As a parent of a high school kid, I am not really expected to homeschool him. And I couldn’t. I don’t know anything about Algebra 2 or Chemistry.

    My kid is bored out of his mind. He likes school. He’s on the highest honor roll for the school. He’s got an A+ in Algebra 2 (not special ed) and the teacher says he’s the fastest in the class. He misses school horribly. He misses learning stuff. He misses have some contact with other children.

    His teachers aren’t doing any live classes yet. Well, his English teacher did one 20 minute class today. This was his first. He hasn’t learned anything or socialized with anyone in six weeks. I’m beyond upset. I can’t even think about it anymore. I’m ready to withdraw him from school and put him in an online charter school.

    He can’t go on like this much longer.

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    1. Laura said, “I can’t even think about it anymore. I’m ready to withdraw him from school and put him in an online charter school.”

      Where they’ve actually figured out this stuff?

      My big kids somehow usually finish up their high school work by lunch. I have a lot of questions about how they are doing this, but whatever. The senior seems a lot less stressed than earlier in the year. I think the big kids both like the less work aspect, but the more social kid is pining for his pals. We have been setting him up with a weekly “social distancing” tennis date, so he’s not completely cut off from peers. (The college courts are still open.)

      My husband and the 9th grader have been playing every racket sport known to man.

      https://speedmintonusa.com/pages/speedminton-crossminton

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    2. My grade 9 student has one Zoom class a week with each teacher, so they can check in emotionally basically. His math teacher makes the best use of them, I would say – she grades their assignments in advance and uses the time to shore up any gaps.

      My elementary aged student does not, he gets videos from his teacher and a stack of work on Monday, to be completed by Sunday, via Google Classroom.

      My local tutoring megacorps are offering small group online tutoring, might be another way to go.

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      1. Also what my 10th grader is getting, 1-2 zoom classes/week. One of the teachers just said he’s switching to video.

        A friend has had success with Varsity Tutors for Japanese tutoring (face to face, one/one). They appear to be offering what they call “live” online classes in some subjects for free. Friend warned me that they are aggressive about trying to up sell, though, so one might want to use a burner email if testing out.

        Since I believe my 10th grader can make a class work for him if he tries, I may look into something for him for the summer, but I would rather pay. I’ll look into CTY and AoPS.

        CTY just cancelled their 2nd session of in person summer camps, which makes me realize how lucky my daughter is that her internship mentor decided to work with her. A lot of options for college students are disappearing.

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