Pandemic Lockdown Day 27: 21 April 2020

By all rights, I hit 28 days in isolation as of about 12 PM New Zealand Standard Time today. The last human contact I had, in a group, at Alert Level 3 was at 1 PM New Zealand Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday, 24 March 2020. The only other time I went out beyond walking in the local neighborhood was on Monday, 30 March 2020. I drove to the doctor’s office, waited in a socially distanced line outside the building, had my flu shot, grabbed my husband’s prescription, and got it made up, mask and distancing and sanitizer galore and all.

We had a limited team meeting this morning on Zoom. It went pretty well. We spoke about our plans with Alert Level 3 being in play, and we added an extra week just in case, assuming that level continues on beyond 11:59 on Monday, 11 May 2020. We will see.

One thing that I expressed, that irked me a great deal, was the fact that one of the review (as in “not marked”) quizzes on our Moodle site was generating a bit of negative buzz from our senior students. I was given a quiz where the students would need to write-in an answer. Moodle seemed to require a quite literal / straight-forward answer, so I tried to use an example in the questions that required a sequence of answers. That (unfortunately) didn’t seem to work. I didn’t write the quiz. The students in question have had several of these pre-lesson quizzes before, so they know how they work and they know they are not graded on them. It was the only quiz of its type that I had — free-form, short form answer — so I did my best.

Bear in mind that I had a lot of other learning resources, movies, documents, and quizzes and tests to put on-line. This is not something I can do within a normal working day. This takes me at least 10 hours a day for 6 to 7 days a week to complete so far. It’s exhausting.

I’d told the tutors that I’d received several emails from senior students about this particular quiz. In fact, I told them, I had received 80 (yes eighty) emails in my inbox between 4 PM and 12 AM last night. These were not all from students, but there was a higher volume of emails from students about this quiz.

I am human. I can only do so much. I am trying my absolute hardest to ensure things are running smoothly.

There was a bit of a passive-aggressive joke before the lockdown that I’d “finally be able to get the backlog of work” I had to do and get it done. It’s actually not a joke; I’m a few years behind on work due to training people up, retraining new people up, no support, and so on.

Guess what? I’ve not only been unable to catch up on any part of the backlog of work, but also been unable to do any of my normal work during the lockdown. So I’m even further behind than normal.

The tutors expressed the students knew full darned well they should come to their assigned tutor and go from there, and they seemed dismayed this was putting even further pressure on me.

(Later I would find out that my husband, also my boss, had written the students to reiterate they were to contact their assigned tutor with questions, and let me get on with the mammoth task of migrating lessons online so their learning would remain as smooth as possible.)

After the Zoom meeting — which was a nice break, I admit. We even compared pyjamas! — I went into my email and found…

Yet another student ragging on about this 10 point, non marked quiz.

So I wrote back to the entire intake. I’m doing my best. I will go in and manually mark the problem questions. I have a ton of work to do. Please contact your freaking tutor instead of me. I got 80+ emails in 8 hours on my main account, not including secondary folders which emails divert into. And, for God’s sake, please let me get on with my work before I go raving mad.

I literally told them that I was pretty much at the edge of what I could handle as one person.

Did I hear anything back? No.

I kept working to get some lessons up online throughout the day. The Moodle platform slowed down. That is out of my control too. But I was getting more and more frustrated.

I had preloaded some lessons a few weeks ago that came into play for this week, so it has helped me get next week’s lessons (and some for the week after that) completed. But there is still a ton more to do.

In the end, I had to walk away from it all. My eyes were blurring, I was getting a headache, and I was making simple, silly mistakes. This was around 5:30 – 6 PM.

Most days during the lockdown, I haven’t had lunch. I haven’t had a break other than to go have a pee or get more Coke No Sugar. That’s it. No other breaks.

Tonight, we watched some TV and had a nice dinner. We also watched some episodes of Love Death + Robots, which I am enjoying immensely.

But the day passed too quickly and it now is time for bed.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 death toll rose by 1 today: an older person in Auckland. We officially received word a Kiwi waiting to be evacuated from Peru a few weeks ago was found dead in the apartment he’d rented in the meantime. That passing doesn’t officially get tallied in our overall tally, but he still is a New Zealander lost to this pandemic.

We had 5 new cases today — a significant drop from 87 a day a few weeks ago — and 2 of those were test-positive cases. The Director of Public Health — sorry I am tired, so I may have got his title wrong — said these cases all were linked to previous cases. Overall, there have been an absolute small number of people who gained COVID-19 through community transfer in New Zealand.

Yesterday, our Prime Minister said the R0 factor — the rate by which one person transmits the virus to another person — was at 0.46 in New Zealand, which means it is essentially halted. The normal R0 factor for COVID-19 (from what we know now) is between 2.5 to 3.0. The normal R0 factor for measles is around 16. This means for every case, that is the number of people that one infected person can successfully pass the virus on to.

So having us go from the average of one COVID-19-infected person passing the virus on to between 2 and 3 people on average normally, to having that average drop to below 0.5 people, is amazing.

I have told some of the people in my life in the States about this. It’s not a brag. It’s a shining example of what can be done with a lot of sacrifice.

And, overall, it’s me saying to them: “Don’t worry about me. I am safe. Please be safe too.”

Let’s hope New Zealand remains to be a safe haven from COVID-19, and a successful vaccine is found really soon.