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It’s been a few months now since I went remote. (97 calendar days, not that I’m counting.) And just as we’ve settled into remote work….the plans for fall semester have started to take hold in concrete ways.

In the past 3 months, we’ve seen it all. The 15 scenarios for fall. Two competing visions. The running lists of publicly-announced plans (and why they’re like nailing jello to the wall). Endless questions about what it might look like and the effects of going in person, staying online, declarations they “must” be in person, and everything in between.

But by now, my university – and many others – have moved from planning into “okay, we laid out our plans, full speed ahead.”

I have to report back starting the week of July 20th. It’s up to individual managers to interpret how that works for each team, but the expectation is that all teams have at least some on-campus presence during business hours. Following the no more than 30% of any team on site at once, physical distancing, masks, etc. My boss needs all of us to submit our preferences and needs so she can put out a proposed schedule.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m the only parent on the team. (Okay, actually my boss has a child, but they’re starting college, so a little bit more self-sufficient than my 8 and 6 year olds.) While K-12 schools here have slowly started to trickle out their plans, we don’t know anything for sure yet.

Based on what we do know – our state’s ever-more-alarming headline-making atrocious COVID-19 case numbers, my autoimmune disease, and how little one in general knows about the lasting, long-term health effects of a deadly virus…we are leaning towards online school for the kids.

Someone has to be here with them. That would be me, I think since my husband’s work ordered him back into the office in person the second the state opened. He has been taking liberties with work – working from home on afternoons here and there to help – but he’s not allowed to or supposed to.

We have no local family to help. I suppose we could hire a part-time nanny, but is that safe? I can’t guarantee that any mother’s helper isn’t also trotting here, there, and everywhere, masks and distancing be damned.

Nevertheless, I’m to submit which day(s) and shift(s) I might be able to be on-site. I cannot possibly be the only academic struggling with this scheduling matrix nightmare.

How are you handling this? What are the conversations looking like for you, at your work?