Archive for Social Distancing

Implementation Guidelines for Public Health Measures in Higher Education Institutions

Posted in Covid-19, Education, Maynooth with tags , , , on August 6, 2020 by telescoper

Yesterday I was speculating out loud about where we go from here in order to return to teaching in September. Today I find that there’s actually a guidance document produced by the Irish Universities Association under the auspices of the Health Service Executive. The full document (PDF, 12 pages) can be found here.

The advice focuses on principles rather than practice and a lot of work will have to be done in individual institutions to translate the guidelines into working procedures, but it is welcome nonetheless. I encourage everyone involved in higher education to read it all.

A key issue on everyone’s mind concerns on-campus teaching, so I have selected this paragraph:

This suggests that the social distancing between staff and students and between staff and other staff should be kept to 2m but the spacing between students in lecture theatres, laboratories, etc can be 1m with the proviso that students wear face masks.

Note however that there is a more general restriction that indoor gatherings should involve no more than 50 people. Unless some sort of exemption is granted for HEIs then this, rather than social distancing, may determine the maximum class size.

Allowing us to populate rooms with one metre spacing between students rather than two makes a huge difference to our ability to accommodate students in lecture halls and other teaching spaces, but even so the capacity of most teaching rooms will be much lower than normal. For example, the room I taught my first-year class of ~85 in last year has a nominal capacity of 90. With 1m social distancing that is reduced to 27; with 2m distancing it is down to 18. I don’t know how many students I’ll have next semester, but hopefully it will be more than 27! Assuming that it is, I won’t be able to teach them as a single group.

On Boredom

Posted in Biographical, Covid-19, Television with tags , , on April 1, 2020 by telescoper

During this time of isolation and social distancing I’ve noticed how many people are posting messages on social media about being bored.

Conscious that I am in danger once again of being excluded from a popular cultural phenomenon I have been trying recently to join in this craze. Unfortunately whenever I try to experience a bit of boredom I find there is far too much to distract me.

There’s working from home, of course: lecture recordings to make, notes to prepare, assignments to correct, virtual meetings to attend, papers to write, and so on

But outside of work it’s just as difficult. Whenever I try to interrupt my day with a bit of boredom I find that there’s so much music to listen to, so many books and newspapers to read, so many crossword puzzles to solve so many other things to do, that I always get distracted and fail dismally.

Perhaps it is the fact that I don’t have a television set that makes me such a failure? It seems that there may be a strong correlation between possession of a TV and being susceptible to boredom. Perhaps if I bought one I could be more like normal people?

Anyway, never let it be said that I don’t know when I’m beaten. That is why I am asking readers of this blog for help. Could anyone who is expert in being bored please send tips on how to achieve it? I’d be quite interested in your suggestions.

Your advice through the comments box would be greatly appreciated as I fear that without it I may always remain a social outcast.

P. S. Before anyone says it: if you are yourself struggling to get bored you could try reading through the back catalogue of posts on this blog!