20 September 2020

Afraid of field trips

I'll admit it: I'm scared! Soon teaching will start, and one of the first things that is on the timetable is our trip to Llanddwyn. And it's a lovely trip, but the times have changed since we did it last. Fieldtrips in times of Corona are just different! I am not afraid we will fall ill, let alone die. Is that justified? Not sure. But I am afraid that one of the students will test positive, and that we then all will have to self-isolate. I would really hate to have to stay home for two weeks! I know that my place is great for it, but still. It would suck. And we have these trips every month (except December) so in theory, we could have a situation where we have to self-isolate after trip 1, then come out of self-isolation in time for trip 2, in which the same thing happens and we have to go straight back into self-isolation. That would really really suck! 

So should we not? No! We should. We have the students here, on campus, so we should offer them teaching that can't be done from elsewhere. And they have to self-isolate too if someone ends up testing positive! And they will have to do that in much smaller accommodation. So if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us. Even though, of course, the risks are not the same. If you talk self-isolation, we staff have the advantage. If you talk infection, the students do. Most are in their late teens and early twenties. These are not likely to get very ill! But our fieldwork module is run by one thirtysomething, one fortysomething, and two fiftysomethings. And the last are males too. (Typical; SOS does junior women and senior men, like many science bodies). So if we staff, and especially these 50+ males, get infected, things look much worse than when it's a student. 

I'm not sounding optimistic, am I? Maybe not. But these are weird times! But I think we should give it a go. Go into the field! As soon as we are in the field, the wind will blow all viruses away. I don't think anyone will get infected outside. And the only inside bit will be dangerous, and that will be transport to the site. And we will probably be able to limit that to a minimum. So I suppose the biggest risk to all is indeed self-isolation; not death. Good! 

We will have to see how things go! If things get out of hand and all face-to-face teaching leads to the whole cohort having to self-isolate then I'm sure the university will pull the plug. You can't really do that! I hope it won't come to that. I hope we can deliver to the students the best bits of the education we have to offer! 

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