Last Day Off

Tomorrow is officially my first day back at work after the Christmas break. Not that I’ll be going back to my office on campus in the morning. Thanks to the state of the Covid-19 pandemic I will be working from home for the foreseeable future. It’s looking pretty grim at the moment, and I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better:

 

I know I’m not alone in thinking that it was a big mistake to relax the Covid-19 restrictions so soon before Christmas with cases at such a high level. What has happened since then in terms of new cases and hospitalizations is even worse than the experts predicted; today almost 5000 cases were reported, taking the total past 100,000. I hope the current Government is properly held to account for the way it bowed to pressure from vested interests (especially the so-called “hospitality industry”) the way it did.

I haven’t read my work emails since the end of last term (December 18th 2020). I do hope I don’t have to work through a mountain of them when I finally open my inbox tomorrow morning. No doubt as  we get back to work there will be detailed instructions on what we can and can’t do. Semester Two of teaching in Maynooth doesn’t start until February 1st so we have a bit of time to see how things progress, but I honestly can’t see any prospect of a return to on-campus classes for the rest of the academic year. I do hope we’re not going to be required to make yet another set of elaborate plans that will never be put into practice…

At least this term I will be “working from home” in better conditions than previously, in my own house with a good internet connection and a proper study that I can close the door on when I need a break. I’ll be teaching three modules next Semester, including one (Advanced Electromagnetism) that I’ve never taught before. Teaching isn’t the only thing, but the other important matters to be dealt with this month are not things I can really write anything about at this stage.

The January examination period starts on Friday (8th) and ends two weeks later (Friday 22nd) so getting through that and getting the examinations marked is going to be the first priority. As in May all these examinations will be in the form of online assessments. We have done this sort of examination before, which makes it a bit easier than last year, but they still cause a lot of stress for staff and students alike. I will have about 100 scripts to mark and will have to do all of them on screen. I’m not looking forward to that at all, but it has to be done. In between those we will be running our first Astrophysics & Cosmology Master Class, which I am looking forward to enormously. It seems to have generated a lot of interest, but we won’t know precisely how many will tune in until the day arrives. It might be a lot if the Schools are closed, which they may be.

I was tempted at this point to make a list of all the things I have to do tomorrow, but that would be breaking my resolution to take a complete break so I will leave that until the morning and instead go and have a nap.

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