Trepidation

I spent most of today in various virtual meetings to do with next Semester’s teaching which is due to start on September 20th for returning students (and a week letter for first-years). I’ve also been keeping an eye on the student record system, as the returning students have started to register. We don’t expect most first-years to start enrolling until next week, although I did see a few early acceptances coming through…

One of the meetings I had today was about how to handle the first-year “Omnibus” science course in which some of the modules are taught in large classes which have to be held remotely and others in smaller groups which will be in person. One of the complications is if students have, say, two lectures online, which they can view at home, will they really travel to campus to attend another one in person? And if they have an online lecture immediately before or after an in-person one, where will they view it if they haven’t got time to get between home and campus (or vice versa)?

All this reminded me of similar discussions we had at this time last year. Back then all the plans came to naught anyway because everything went online anyway a few weeks into term as infections rose (see left panel below):

Today 1620 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Ireland. On this day last year the number was 196 I keep a full record here where you will see that between 10th September 2020 and 10th September 2021 3,378 deaths were recorded, most of them resulting from the big spike that followed Christmas. There is evidence of a dip right now, which is sincerely hope continues, but to me the rate of infections is alarmingly high. If infections start to climb then they’ll be starting from a much higher level than last year.

Of course we now have vaccines and the good news is that it seems that well over 90% of those over the age of 18 in Ireland will have been vaccinated by the start of term but with the Delta variant in circulation will this be enough?

At least we have had a significant change in the wording given to students: masks are now “mandatory” in lecture theatres.

I still think there’s a significant chance we have to revert to online teaching just as we did last year. Looking on the bright side at least we know how to do that now, as we’ve done it before.

But that’s enough worrying for this week. I’m now going to have a glass of wine and cook myself some dinner. Sautéed chicken with Cavolo Nero and Parmesan, in case you were wondering.

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