Virtual School – world enough, and time

30 March 2020. Difficult to distinguish between work and non-work at the moment. Technically it is the school’s Easter holiday. A time for teaching staff to rest, relax and recover from a grueling term and then start planning again. But all departments have been working desperately hard for weeks. Teachers preparing material for digital teaching in the new term. An entirely new way of interacting with a class, particularly across time zones. The operational teams making sure that all their work is up to date and can be picked up again should they have to work from home or accept a furlough. The only ones who would normally be working really hard in this particular week, the two external exam years, are the only ones who aren’t. Probably. They have been told there is no need to revise for exams which will not happen in the summer. Even more frantic sorting out to help them and put a new programme in place for next term. And all of it this last week done from everybody’s living room. Dozens of zoom conferences and regular updates from the Warden. Even the way our management structures work have been revised for this emergency.

Just one week. It all seems so much longer. I’m not alone in having difficulty remembering what day of the week it is. One little boy was hailed as a Twitter hero because he was wearing day-of-the-week socks. It was Thursday – good to know. Usually this complete breakdown of time happens for a glorious few days in the middle of August. But now there are none of our regular time -keepers. No daily shop for fresh bread with that Friday morning supermarket sweep. No dog-walker ringing the doorbell on Wednesday and Friday mornings to be greeted by an ecstatic dog. No MOTD for husband on Saturday night (although he wasn’t happy about Liverpool’s progress at all). No Sunday morning meeting up with friends for brunch, lunch or church.

Routine is vital for health and sanity. But it is now daily instead of weekly. Long days which seem to fritter away too quickly, broken up by an hour’s exercise walking the dog. He doesn’t know what day it is but he usually knows when it’s time for his walk or supper. Clocks changed on Sunday. Now even the dog is baffled.

This is an important time in our history as we become a virtual school during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will probably never operate in quite the same way again. The Archive is about us now.

This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone in the Radley College community to join in to create a group record for our Archive.

© Clare Sargent