My Virtual School – dilemmas

16 April 2020. The new way of school is making progress. Various responses from colleagues chatting as I walk the dog. One wants an emoji for spinning plates. Another was just walking in the clear air to clear his mind and eyes from chasing the screen. Advice of how to do roll call; how to help boys in China who cannot access all resources because of the government’s firewall; reminders that all boys should be at their work at 8.30am GMT – except those in America!

Last night the emphasis was on the pastoral side with Social Prayers in every Social. Tutors juggling an almost complete tally of boys for each boarding house on live links. Followed by the traditional drinks and round-up of the day by all the sub-tutors – a lot of G&T and relieved people: Day 1 had passed more than smoothly for most, some were enthusing about this new way of teaching, others were simply relieved to have juggled the technology and becoming comfortable with it. Later on, Cocoa – another tradition that seemed impossible to maintain but essential to the idea of a boarding school – an informal end to the day with snacks and drinks and a chance to chat on equal terms between boys and staff. Like Chapel, the collegiate element in this is central to the school’s ethos. Once again, most people there on live links, some even clutching a mug of cocoa (probably). So far, so good.

At home today, two dilemmas to tackle. One easily solved by the government announcing that not-quite-lock-down is extended by another three weeks. So the talk on Capability Brown that I was invited to give to a society next week is cancelled. A relief since the more we stay home and limit contacts the greater the desire to stay home and limit contacts. Are we all beginning to suffer from mild agoraphobia? Or has it reached the galloping stage when a drive into Oxford seems an almost insurmountable obstacle course?

But the second dilemma is much harder. Husband is due at hospital for a CT scan on Monday. Not keen on the idea. How much has the media clouded our judgement if we now fear the hospitals themselves?

This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone, particularly members of Radley College community,  to join in to create a group record of this important period in our history as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

© Clare Sargent