The Tail of the Pandemic

Steve and I got our second dose of Pfizer on Friday morning with all the usual side effects. My brother is still limping from the gout, a rare side effect from his second dose.

Although it was initially tough to get a vax in Northern New Jersey, that situation shifted almost over night. Now, every conversation with friends and acquaintances includes gossip about vaccine types, the best locations, and side effects. Vaccines have replaced the weather as small talk.

With a growing confidence about life returning to normal, attention turns to things that are still not normal. Schools are a biggie. They are still not open full time here, which means that parents are still struggling. And parents here are very much in solidarity with parents in cities whose schools are still shut.

And as older parents, conversation also includes discussions about the college students. The fate of college kids has gotten very little attention in the press, because there are so few journalists in mainstream who cover that topic. Based on every conversation that I had this weekend, parents and college students are pissed off.

Jonah had a bad moment last week, when I thought that he wasn’t to return next the fall. He said that he spends 18 hours a day on a computer for school work and social life, and he wants to hurl the thing out his window. He’ll go back. But the past year and a half has been horrible. His classes have been all remote since March of 2020. Two of his classes this semester consist of an adjunct professor droning through PowerPoint slides on YouTube.

His professors must have given up or be highly dispirited. One does not answer emails, so Jonah had to get the chair involved. The back and forth of emails and keeping track of the lack of responses is just one more task in his day. Another professor missed four classes. Another one still hasn’t graded his midterm. Two finished the semester a week before finals.

Is there a silent strike going on at his school? It feels like it.

There’s a chance that schools still won’t open fully in September, despite all sorts of excellent data showing that schools are safe. This will be devastating for women and employment. I think lots of women have given up on full time employment for good. But now, women are going to expect to get paid for staying home.

Frustration with education is one few times that I see an overlap between Twitter chatter and real life chatter. If schools don’t open in September, women’s employment will be only one of the casualties.