The Open University is ALWAYS open

Or: Taking working in isolation to a whole new level

Since some updated governmental guidance on the COVID-19 response, and a new (but completely normal) cough from our nursery-aged child, my family has been in self isolation, about a week and a half. Then last Friday most of my coworkers joined me as the schools were closed, then finally on Monday basically everybody did.

When the schools closed, there were major upheavals for all the universities in the nation … Except the OU. It had some small changes to make, such as the cancellation of face-to-face tutorials and day schools, email-only support from student services, and paper TMAs sent in the post rather than electronically won’t be marked until after schools are opened again.

But for the most part, it’s business as usual for the Open University. It is always. Open. Which is good and bad. Good that my studies won’t be directly impacted, but bad because they are now being severely indirectly impacted. I’ve gone from being a full time parent, full time employee, and part time student to being a full time parent, full time employee, full time home schooler/substitute live-in teacher, and 3/4-time student. And it’s brutal. I have no time for anything. Work is especially difficult, as I’m keeping remote-working resources running which were never intended to support absolutely everybody working from home.

And, of course, if something has to give, it’s university. It’s important for many people, but for me it’s literally just a hobby. (I’ve had more expensive ones which weren’t as fulfilling.) I gave myself a week to get through the TMA for M269, which would normally take a day and a half. I was up until 2 AM last night finishing it up for a due date of noon today. And I never went back to polish it up. It might just garner me a mark of 80, which would be an all-time low. For a subject I’m really good at. That’s how difficult it is to find a spare moment to focus on anything right now.

Other new hobbies include worrying where our next meal is coming from (in a literal sense, as I’ve struggled to find food delivery slots while isolating, and even family members helping have been unable to find basic provisions for us) and playing Which Civil Liberty Is Being Revoked every evening.

On the reals, though, people are running headlong into protecting everybody’s physical health due to a very real danger of death. Nobody seems to be mentioning that mental health is being completely ignored, and it can be just as deadly to some people. Take asking for help as seriously as you take washing your hands if you’re one of those people. And treat emotional security blankets as valuably as actual toilet roll.

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