About Jen

Jen isn't quite sure when she lost her mind, but it is probably documented here on Meditatio. She blogs because the world needs her snark at all hours of the night... and she probably can't sleep anyway.

Quick Takes: “Calm Down Already! Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Vaccine mandate take #1. For everyone hollering and moaning about the Biden vaccination mandate, I have a message for you:

CALM DOWN ALREADY.

Joe Biden is not creating policy to spite you.

Every former president (including Donald Trump), all 50 U.S. governors, most of Congress, and 95% of doctors are vaccinated.

There is a historical precedent for this, starting with George Washington requiring his army to be innoculated against smallpox.

Anyone over the age of 70 in this country probably received at least one of their vaccines at school. (Heck, they did scoliosis tests and TB tests on us in middle school in the early 90’s!)

Bill Gates does not want to put a microchip in your arm.

5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. It does not cause cancer.

— 2 —

Vaccine mandate take #2. This is a video from Ninja Nerd on how the vaccine was tested, how it was created, and how it works. The presenter is Zack Murphy, a PA student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

— 3 —

Vaccine mandate take #3. I’m subject to both the Biden mandate and the one from Washington’s governor Jay Inslee. My employer has had several pop-up vaccine clinics on the Mount Vernon and Whidbey campuses, and all of the staff have been given a list of places to contact for information on vaccines if we need them–a list that spans five counties. We’ve been given two months to get vaccinated or apply for an exemption. Everything must be done by October 20th. There’s a mandate for students as well, but they have until November to get their vaccinations and submit attestations. In other words, we don’t suddenly have a large horde of people having to be vaccinated within a week. (Pfizer and Moderna require two shots spaced a certain amount of time apart, and all of the vaccines require a two week wait after the final one to be considered “completely vaccinated”.)

— 4 —

Vaccine mandate #4. King County (the county where most of Seattle and suburbs are) is requiring retaurants, theaters, and gyms to check people for either a vaccine card or a negative COVID test. All of Washington’s professional sports teams and college teams (most of which are in King County) require it as well.

A couple places in my county are requiring a vaccination card (theaters mostly at this point), and people are losing their freaking mind over it and howling about discrimination. I’m rolling my eyes. The places requiring it are places where people are going to be in close proximity… and I don’t blame them one bit. If I were going to a theater for a movie, I’d hope that I wasn’t stuck between two unvaccinated people who may or may not have COVID. Vaccines aren’t perfect, but it lowers the risk. Vaccinated people also don’t get as sick as those who are unvaccinated. (The New York Times reported that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die of COVID than those who are vaccinated.)

— 5 —

Health update. In addition to getting my brain scraped last week, I also had to see my GP. She was happy with everything, and she listened to some of the weird symptoms I’m having. She ordered a ton of bloodwork and a UA, so I dealt with all of that on Tuesday. (I was aiming for Monday, but I hadn’t slept well and was getting super hypoglycemic by 3 a.m., so I ended up eating and postponing it until Tuesday morning. (It was fasting bloodwork, so OBVIOUSLY there was some serious thirst and serious hunger going on. It *NEVER* fails.)

My GP finally looked at labs today, and everything checked out fine. No new medication updates thankfully. I’m apparently NOT anemic (which was a concern).

— 6 —

Interesting music take #1. Here’s some Sicilian polyphony mixed with Mongolian khoomii overtone chant. It’s kind of an unusual but fun combination.

— 7 —

Interesting music take #2. This song was on a folk music album that came with a songbook years ago. I love Mavis Staples singing it because I think it needs that soul.

There’s also apparently one-room country school in rural Montana that sings it with their kids.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Musings from the COVID Testing Line Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Really??? I got a text and an email from Daniel’s school on Friday to let me know that Daniel may have been exposed to COVID. Well, crap! We had Daniel mask up in the house until we could figure out what to do. My brother has been through this a few times with my nephew’s daycare, and he told us that we didn’t need to mask up Daniel in the house. (Kiddo was pissed at having to wear his mask in the house at first, but he adjusted and even fell asleep in it.) I also had to stay home from church on Sunday, which pissed me off because my former choir director was there to get to say goodbye to all of us, and I missed the special dinner with her as well.

We learned on Tuesday that they were shutting his class down for at least a week, and he would be able to return to school on Monday (the 13th) as long as he wasn’t manifesting symptoms because he’s vaccinated. My choir director asked me to get tested (since the choir with the cluster cases is local to us), so I did. (They even let me tickle my own brain!) Unsurprisingly, my test was negative. Props to Skagit County Public Health. I went home after getting tested and hopped in the shower. My test results were back by the time I got out of the shower. It was ~20 minute turnaround.

My brother’s response was the best:

Love how someone’s personal choice just became your problem.

— 2 —

Sigh… A church friend of mine had a coworker who was a diehard anti-vaxxer and Trump supporter. He would bait me on my friend’s wall, so I blocked him on Facebook.

A week and a half ago, my church friend asked me to pray for this coworker because he was in the ICU with COVID. He deteriorated over the next week, and they removed him from life support on Monday. He leaves a wife and a daughter who was a complete daddy’s girl. He was in his late 40’s.

Y’all, I’m not posting on vaccination and urging you to get vaccinated because I want to debate you on the subject or because it’s a political thing. This person’s death could have been prevented if he had been vaccinated. He would have gotten really sick, but he wouldn’t have ended up on a ventilator. I’m legitimately sad about his death because it did *NOT* have to happen.

— 3 —

Eff cancer. My friend Mellora’s husband Matt was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, and he ended up in the ER on August 30th with a collapsed lung. His condition worsened and he was put on hospice yesterday. He died that night. He leaves Mellora and their two daughters. He was my age.

Please keep Mellora, her daughters, and all who knew and loved Matt in your prayers.

— 4 —

Music take #1. This song has been on my mind for the last 24 hours with the deaths I heard about yesterday.

— 5 —

Music take #2. The song above led to this one by Matt Maher getting stuck in my head.

— 6 —

Music take #3. The song in the previous take just made me cry, and this other one came to mind.

— 7 —

Music take #4. As I was out with Daniel today and pondering all that was going on this week, this hymn came to mind. It’s Brian Doerkson’s arrangement of “It Is Well With My Soul”. His dad sings with him starting on verse 2. I sang this hymn to Daniel in the NICU and in the PICU during the hospitalization 10 1/2 years when we almost lost him. It’s absolutely my favorite hymn.

— Bonus —

Vaccination mandate. I know people are probably going to be up in arms about this in their Quick Takes, and my position is probably not going to be popular.

I have an employer that requires vaccination, and I live in a state where the governor (thankfully) requires it of all medical and education workers. I would honestly not be comfortable having Daniel in a class with an unvaccinated teacher, and I’m hoping the 6th graders in his class can be vaccinated soon as well to cut down on the chances of him bringing it home. I would refuse to be treated by a doctor or dentist who wasn’t vaccinated because of the need to be close to each other for check-ups and treatment. Large employers are going to have people in close proximity when they go back to the office, so it makes sense that they be vaccinated.

As I said above, I’m not pushing vaccination as a political talking point. The Delta variant doesn’t discriminate between Republicans and Democrats. These variants are going to keep developing until people are vaccinated and COVID stops being endemic. I’m saying all of these things because I really do care about my blog readers, and I don’t want y’all ending up on ventilators and making your family deal with funeral arrangements.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Back to School Edition

Those who know me on Facebook know that Daniel started back to school in person yesterday. He is fully vaccinated and the school requires masks for everyone (no exceptions), so we felt comfortable letting him go this fall. He is in the 7th grade at a local middle school.

Here is what happened in the last few days before he started back to school as well as the first day.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Sunday afternoon. Remember that Daniel has to have pill bottles for any medication that is going to school with him. Call the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist nicely if they can be made. Make plans to pick them up on Monday afternoon.

— 2 —

Monday afternoon. Exchange a flurry of emails with Daniel’s teacher and the school nurse. Pick up the spare pill bottles after my small group meeting at park with Daniel.

— 3 —

Tuesday afternoon. Talk to school nurse while driving on errands. Discover that doctor’s orders need to be written in order to medicate Daniel at school. Doh! Accept the nurse’s offer to call the pediatrician and get the process started. Come home and start laundry.

— 4 —

Tuesday night. Sort laundry. Find spare clothes to put in Daniel’s backpack. Clean glasses and hearing aids. Go find hearing aid batteries. Discover that all of them are expired. Doh!

Hunt down non-shredded socks to put in the backpack. Realize I need to order more socks. Log onto Amazon.Com and use Amazon Prime to get some delivered on Wednesday afternoon.

Set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. Curse whoever thought having middle school start at 7:00 a.m. was a good idea.

— 5 —

Wednesday morning. Wake up a few minutes before my phone alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. Tiptoe downstairs to see I could get down there without waking up Daniel. Hand Daniel the spoon with the peanut butter and his meds when he comes down a few minutes after me. Grab his formula bolus out of the fridge. Help him change his training pants. Tell him that he is going to school on the bus today. Hand him clothes. Hook him up to his tube feed.

Go downstairs. Make his lunch and put it in his backpack. Go back upstairs and watch YouTube until his feeding pump beeps. Take him downstairs to get his socks and shoes on. Take pictures with him for the first day of school.

First Day of 7th Grade

My bus stop helper.

See bus arrive at the bottom of the driveway and start to leave 20 seconds later. Run outside barefoot to flag down bus in the cul-de-sac. Get kid on the bus. Go back in the house. Change into clean jammies and go back to bed.

Got kid on the bus

He's all yours until 2:30.

— 6 —

Wednesday midday. Toss clothes on. Head to the grocery store. Grab peanut butter. Grab latté and turkey pesto panini from Starbucks. Head to middle school. Try to figure out how to get into the building. Discover that I’m at a building for elementary school next door. (The back door of the cafeteria was open and the lunch staff pointed me in the right direction.) Head to correct building and get buzzed into office. Get directed to the health room. Introduce myself to nurse on duty. Show her pill bottles and get peanut butter on the spoon while she pages Daniel down to the health room. Introduce myself to his teacher. Medicate child with pills and peanut butter. Fix hearing aid falling out of Daniel’s ear and give the teacher an impromptu lesson on hearing aid placement.

Head to the pediatrician’s office. Discover that I-5 is a parking lot due to someone on foot on the freeway. Take surface route instead. Get screened at the door of the medical building and shoot the breeze with the screener about how public places are too “people-y”. Commiserate on irritation at anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. Show ID to the receptionist and get doctor’s orders for Daniel to receive his meds at school.

Head to ACE Hardware store. Look for Smudge and Biscuit, the tuxedo cats who own the store. Fail to find them. Get hearing aid batteries. Shoot the breeze with the clerk about my dad who claims to hate cats but brings toys for the ACE Hardware kitties. Write an email to deaf/hard-of-hearing teacher to thank him for changing the batteries that morning.

Head back to the school. Park in the correct place this time. Sign and go over orders with the school nurse. Head home to stare at a wall until Daniel gets home.

— 7 —

Wednesday afternoon. Head downstairs around the time Daniel’s bus is supposed to arrive. Sit on the arm of the love seat in front of the window and wait. Play Township on my phone. See the bus coming and open the door for Daniel. Offer him food but plan to follow him upstairs when he declines. Check backpack before going upstairs. Put thermos and leftover perishable items from his lunch box in the refrigerator. Grab a packet of paperwork and take it upstairs to complete.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Late August Miscellanea Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Holy buckets! Clarissa Ward spoke with Brian Stelter of CNN about getting out of Afghanistan. It’s… intense.

— 2 —

The sound of COVID. Not gonna lie. This video unnerved me because I’ve lived in a PICU with Daniel for days and spent time in the NICU. Those alarms start going off when bad things are happening. I remember being in the ER with pneumonia and sepsis two years ago, and a low oxygen alarm went off for someone (I think a baby or young child) a few bays down. My mom saw the look on my face (which I had think had even lost the small amount of color it had), and she had to convince me that Daniel was home asleep with my dad because I was about to have another panic attack from my brain going to all the times that those alarms had sounded for Daniel.

Y’all, stop putting doctors and nurses through this foolishness. GET YOURSELF VACCINATED.

@nurse_sushi

Alarm fatigue is high these days. ##icu ##icurn ##criticalcare ##rn ##nurse ##covid ##covid19 ##vaccinessavelives

? original sound – Sugi ?

— 3 —

Thankful for my Snuggie. My parents are having a new roof put on the house, so I’ve had to be up and dressed earlier than usual. For some odd reason, I’m having a really hard time staying warm, so I have been really appreciating the Snuggie I got for myself a few years ago after my former mother-in-law gave my old one to Goodwill.

I’ve also learned that I can nap through anything if I’m tired enough because I’ve had people outside my (second floor) window and on the roof above me pounding, and I’ve slept through it.

— 4 —

Changing my perspective. I saw this story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and I’m having to confront my feelings on the subject.

Basically, there are a bunch of bells along a route called the “El Camino Real” that stretches from northern California down to San Diego. Franciscan missions were built along that route in the 18th century, and it was a big freaking deal to learn about them in 4th grade, build one, and visit one. History is a passion of mine, so having a piece of history removed is kind of painful.

However, the indigenous people in California had their culture, language, and land removed when the Spanish Franciscans and settlers arrived. They forced them to build the missions under the guise of Christianizing them. Probably 1/3 of the people died during that time, and seeing those bells is like making a black person look at statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate heroes while being told of how glorious the antebellum South was.

As someone who cheered when the Confederate statues came down in town squares and were removed from government buildings (including the U.S. Capitol), I need to remember that the history of the missions is just as problematic. The bells can go. The mission buildings are still there (many of them still are used as churches and chapels), and there are amazing things called “books” that tell their various histories.

This isn’t me trying to appear “woke”. This is me being honest about something that has been on my mind today.

— 5 —

Oops! I was going through this site to see how I had classified my current blog header, and I saw that I was still listing my age as 39 and Daniel’s age as 12. Oops! I’m now 41 years old, and Daniel turned 12 in April. I think I’ll go audit the rest of my pages when I finish these takes…

— 6 —

Vaccine discernment from a fellow blogger. I want to call out Bonnie Engstrom and thank her for being very transparent about the discernment she has gone through on the subject of getting her COVID vaccination. The series from her Instagram stories from a few days ago isn’t archived yet, but she was asking about who people trust regarding media sources and politicians because it’s really super hard to figure these things out if you don’t have a science background. (Science also evolves over time, so information and recommendations for safety precautions have changed as we have learned more about the virus and its variants.)

Throw some prayers her way because her kids have hand, foot, and mouth disease and their air-conditioning isn’t working. It was 100+ F where she lives a few days ago, and it was 92F in the house. 🙁

— 7 —

Some updates on a previous post. I blogged about dealing with mask and vaccine mandates on campus a few weeks ago, and I wanted to let you know where things stand.

We found out two weeks ago that there would indeed be a mask and vaccine mandate on campus, and both staff and students would have to sign attestations about being vaccinated before the first day of Fall Quarter on September 20th. Last week, Washington’s governor (Jay Inslee) announced that all health workers and pretty much every person working in education in the state of Washington are required to be vaccinated and submit proof of it to their employers by October 18th. (Not an attestation. ACTUAL PROOF. There are exemptions for medical and religious reasons, but no philosophical ones.) There is also an indoor mask requirement for the entire state again that went into effect on Monday.

I am positively *GIDDY* and am waiting to find out how to submit my proof of vaccination so that I can get that out of the way. I’m thankful to have a governor who cares about the safety of the people in his state, and I’m thankful to work for a college that takes all of this seriously.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: The Delta (Variant) Blues Edition

7 Quick Takes

I’m at the point where I have no chill left, and I’m calling out all of you reading this who are being difficult about masking up and who are refusing to get vaccinated because you just don’t want to. (Spare me your anecdotes and stories about the friend of a friend you read about on the Internet. Having COVID once does not offer sufficient protection, and I don’t care about the studies you send me unless they have been peer-reviewed by experts in epidemiology.)

If you don’t want to hear what I think of you, feel free to skip this post.

— 1 —

Masks. Y’all, I’m not fond of having to wear a mask everywhere. I’m not fond of my singer’s mask giving me hot flashes on Sunday morning. However, the Delta variant of COVID is hitting the country super hard, and I’m in favor of protecting the people around me. So…

Philippians 2:3, y'all!

And wear your mask properly WITH YOUR NOSE COVERED!

COVER YOUR FREAKING NOSE!

For all of you howling about YOUR RIGHTS, here’s some wisdom:

Adolescence

— 2 —

Regarding the “we don’t know what’s in the vaccine” stupidity… I have a few thoughts.

The contents of an apple.

Apologies for the profanity in this one.

Mind the profanity.

One of my friends also pointed out on Facebook that the people making this claim about the vaccine somehow have no problem eating a McRib sandwich or McDonald’s chicken nuggets… and those are foods of unknown ingredients. You can get a list of vaccine ingredients.

— 3 —

The stupidity of protesting mask mandates in schools… I have no sympathy here. None. Kids pass viruses around classrooms, and the mask mandate is part of the safety measures in place. My autistic 12 year old son can wear a mask without a problem. My three year old nephew has worn one in public since he was 2 years old. If they can wear them, your kid can too. If you don’t want your kids to have a mask mandate at their school, feel free to homeschool them.

There is a local school board candidate who is making a stink about it (especially after our governor announced that masks will be required indoors for everyone in the state), and I think it’s so nice of her to be open about it so that people know not to vote her onto the school board.

How masking contributes.

— 4 —

Refuting the fallacy that the COVID surge is solely “breakthrough” cases… I found some lovely infographics illustrating the truth on this.

Mostly unvaccinated people here.

Yep, not all breakthrough cases here either!

— 5 —

Decisions made by school officials. I back every school district that has chosen to defy state governments and institute a mask mandate and every school district that has chosen to delay the start of school because of the Delta variant.

Did we do enough?

— 6 —

Compassion fatigue regarding people refusing to be vaccinated. Y’all who refuse to be vaccinated are putting a serious strain on the doctors who will be treating you in the hospital WHEN (not IF) you end up in there with COVID. Knock it off.

— 7 —

What people with COVID say about getting vaccinated. Here’s what some people in the hospital with COVID say about getting vaccinated.

— Bonus —

While y’all are stewing about me calling you out, please pray for my friend M’s daughter Millie who is fighting severe COVID. She is too young to be vaccinated and contracted it despite her parents’ attempts to protect her. She has Down Syndrome, and the trisomy issues are messing with her airway badly.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Tutoring Commandments Edition

Some of you know that I work as a tutor at a community college, so I thought I’d share my “tutoring commandments” this week. It’s mildly sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, but it’s all stuff that I’ve dealt with and deal with frequently.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Thou shalt not stand up thy tutor. My students have my cell phone number and my email address so that they can text, call, or email me to let me know that they can’t make that session, so it’s a bit irritating when they don’t contact me or give me very little warning. It’s not as important to have advanced warning right now while I’m working on Zoom, but it’s a headache if I’ve made the effort to change out of my pajamas, driven to campus, and lugged my laptop bag across campus to meet with someone. Thankfully, I do get paid for part of the session because my bosses have a heart, but I still resent losing grocery money because people can’t be bothered to let me know something came up and they won’t be there.

Also? When I email my boss about your no-show and you get a warning from them, don’t throw me under the bus. I save all conversations with my students. I know you knew about the session because I texted a reminder yesterday.

— 2 —

Thou shalt not treat me as a homework machine. It’s OK if you need help with homework, but don’t save all of it for me. I have a very finite amount of time with each student, and we can’t get through all of your homework for every class in that one session. Attempting your homework ahead of time means that we can focus on the stuff you don’t understand.

Also? I can’t hold your hand through every assignment. It is frustrating when a student pulls out the homework we worked on last time and hasn’t done anything else on it. The frustration intensifies when the due date for that homework has passed and the student is now even more behind and only eligible for partial credit on the homework they pulled out to continue. Pleasepleasepleaseplease make the effort to do your homework after I work with you, especially after I’ve given you the notes and skills to finish the assignment in a timely fashion.

— 3 —

Thou shalt not try to get me to help thee on a test, midterm or final. Guess what? Your instructors know I tutor their subjects and said instructors notify me when a test, midterm, or final is coming up. They tell me how much assistance I can give to students, and I am not going to jeopardize my job by helping you on this test. In many cases, I’ve taken the test and aced it on my own merits, so I expect you to do the same.

If you try to ask me questions on the subject matter, I will tell you that I cannot help you the first time and will reply “asked and answered!” cheerfully every time after that. (The record for me saying that is 15 times in succession.) I know what you are doing. You are not being devious.

— 4 —

Thou shalt not scream at thy tutor. I don’t like it. Don’t do it. If you do, my boss will be happy to deal with you.

Also? If you make me cry, my boss will end you.

— 5 —

Thou shalt manage thy time appropriately so that thou dost not end up in an emergency situation. Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. You got that assignment a few days ago, and you’re waiting until now to start it? Sucks to be you. You could have had help with that assignment during that time, and now you’re coming to see a drop-in tutor in the last 5 minutes of her shift. Once the end of my shift comes around, I’m done and logging off Zoom or walking out of the room.

What’s that? The assignment is going to take SOOOOOO long? It’s going to take longer if you don’t start on it right now. Your choice.

— 6 —

Thou shalt not expect me to solve all thy problems because thou canst be bothered to talk to thy instructor. I have had students who are assigned to me midway through the quarter, and I find out that they have been having computer issues/issues with the course website/issues with Zoom/issues with software the entire time… and they haven’t bothered to reach out to their instructor to let them know. They may or may not have done any classwork, but they expect their instructor (who has a NO LATE WORK EVER policy) to let them turn everything in for full credit…. and apparently, I can fix *EVERYTHING* for them at that moment and help them get an A with no problem.

Meanwhile, my stomach is in knots because I’m going to have to email my boss and that student’s advisor in the program to let them know that this is a situation where there is next to nothing I can do because the student can’t be bothered to advocate for themselves. I usually have to tell the student tactfully that they should have been in conversation from the beginning of the quarter with their instructor about things not working, and I have them email the instructor to find out what can be done for the quarter to be salvaged… *IF* it can be salvaged. (I also deal with students who want *ME* to email their instructors and fix things… which I cannot do as it would be a FERPA violation and a potential firing offense.)

Please, I beg you, DON’T PUT ME IN THAT SITUATION. It ruins my day.

— 7 —

Thou shall respect your tutor’s off-hours. I’m limited in the number of hours I can work weekly, and my bosses do not expect me to check and respond to email outside of my working hours. If you contact me at 10:30 p.m. and tell me that you have a problem and I need to contact you IMMEDIATELY to fix it (especially if you’re not on my tutoring roster and have stalked me online to get my contact information), I’m going to ignore you until noon the next day when my drop-in tutoring hours start. Once my drop-in hours start, I will email you back and tell you to lose my number and my email address. The email will be copied to my boss, and they’ll be more than happy to weigh in on the subject. My off-time is mine. Please respect that.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Mask/Vaccination Mandates and Accommodations Edition

Emily wrote this piece a few days ago, and it is really worth reading. Because I work for a community college, I wanted to respond to it because it’s something I’m going to be having to work with if/when we go back fully in person for Fall Quarter.

**DISCLAIMER** EVERYTHING I’M ABOUT TO SAY APPLIES TO THE SITUATION THAT EXISTS AT PRESENT WITH THE INFORMATION I HAVE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WHAT COULD POTENTIALLY HAPPEN DURING FALL QUARTER. THIS IS ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS WE LEARN MORE.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Please understand that any mask or vaccination mandate is made with the safety of the people on campus in mind. I haven’t seen the inside of any building on campus since March 9, 2020 when the staff got an email from the college president stating that some CNA students had been exposed to COVID at a skilled-care facility and had been on campus the same week. The campus was supposed to be shut down for a week for deep cleaning… and we all know how that ended. Currently, the campus is open Monday-Wednesday with a mask mandate because Summer Quarter tends to have a smaller number of students taking classes. The situation is being monitored very closely, and we’ll find out next week if there will continue to be a mask mandate and likely a vaccination mandate.

One of the reasons I love working for my college is that they honestly do care about the students, staff, and faculty. This means that our college president tends to be very risk-averse. It has nothing to do with politics or violating people’s Constitutional rights. (Spoiler alert: mask mandates fall under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution which leaves the decision up to the states because they are not specifically mentioned in any article of the document nor in any amendment that is part of the Bill of Rights.) He is very concerned about keeping everyone safe on campus. This means that you may not like the decisions made, and those decisions may mean that it would be safer for you to take classes remotely if you cannot wear a mask for a legitimate physical reason. Emily talked about how she wouldn’t have been able to attend school if she had to mask up during high school and college, and that might be what the present situation requires because we would want to keep her safe and protect her as much as we could from contracting COVID.

— 2 —

Please understand that the majority of people who are getting worked up about a mask mandate are doing so because it is inconvenient for them to wear a mask, so please be patient with us as we try to filter them out. I’m not going to lie–this woman (also known as a “Karen”) is an example of what all of us are dreading with having a mask mandate on campus.

I’ve seen them at Starbucks, I’ve seen them at my grocery store, and I absolutely expect to encounter them on campus. It’s especially frustrating because we have a staff member in my program who can’t be vaccinated (due to an anaphylactic reaction to shot #1 of Pfizer), and the mask mandate and potential vaccine mandate (from which she is exempted) exist to keep her and others like her safe. The rise in Delta variant cases in this area is unnerving for her because masks are not required in a lot of places in our area, although that is starting to change.

I’ve known Emily online for years now, and I know that she is *NOT* one of these Karens. (I mean, she has a legitimate issue, and she also has manners.) However, when institutions hear that someone wants an exemption from wearing a mask, the image of the Karen is going to be the first thing to pop up because they’re the most vocal. It’s going to take a bit to filter the Karens out, so please be patient with us.

— 3 —

If you have a legitimate physical reason to not wear a mask, please work with us ahead of time. If you have a situation like Emily’s, please understand that staff like me are not far enough up the food chain to exempt people from the mask mandate. If you show me a doctor’s note, I’m going to tell you that I can’t let you in the room maskless without the permission of my boss, even I do believe that you have a valid request.

If your child is a K-12 student, please talk to the school district before the school year starts to find out what accommodations can be made as it is going to create a really difficult situation if they show up on the first day of school without a mask on in a district that requires them. It might be that they need to do remote education because of the risk of infection if they’re on campus, but they might be OK on campus with certain conditions. The school district will also have you put together an individualized health plan (IHP) for your child with the school nurse so that they know how to handle any medications or what to do if something happens.

If you are at a community college or 4-year university, it’s a sticky situation because there are privacy issues involved. Your best bet (as far as I know) is to contact whoever handles disability issues before move-in day (if you attend a school with dorms) or the first day of classes. On my campus, it is Disability Access Services. (I’m going to use them as an example for the rest of this post.) They can tell you what can or cannot be done. You can find them by calling the school and asking to be connected. They’re great people, and they’d love to work with you. They might even be able to get you a pass for better parking on campus to keep you from getting too winded while walking to class! (The community college where I work has no good student parking after around 7:45 or 8:00 in the morning, and this stinks if you’ve got any kind of impaired lung function. Ask me how I know this.)

— 4 —

If you provide us documentation on your inability to wear a mask or be vaccinated, please make sure it’s something legitimate. A letter from your pulmonologist with lung function information attached would be an example of good documentation. A “mask exemption” card printed off the Internet is not. Ask the DAS people what they need so that you can be prepared ahead of time.

If we do have a vaccination mandate, there will be information on the website about how that will work. If you can’t be vaccinated for health reasons, you’ll probably need to get a note from your doctor that has all the proper information on it. (Your doctor’s office has the right stationery for things like this.)

— 5 —

Please don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself if you are hard of hearing. If you have hearing loss of any kind, you probably know already that you need to go talk to Disability Access Services so that they can provide accommodations. They’ll let your instructor know that they have a student with hearing issues in their class, but they might not give them a lot of information. If you email your instructor and let them know that you need a notetaker, they’ll find a student in the class who can do that on the first day of school. (I know this because I’ve worked as one before.) Your instructor will probably offer you some extra Zoom office hours, and it would be super helpful to let them know if they need to avoid virtual backgrounds or focus on their face to make sure you can see their lips well. If you need an interpreter, the DAS can provide one for you. I can’t think of any instructor I work with on a regular basis who wouldn’t work with you to find a way to help you succeed.

This also goes for tutors as well. We don’t get notified by the DAS (because it’s a privacy issue), so please put it in your tutor request paperwork if this is something we need to know. My boss is actually a former interpreter and works part-time for the DAS, so she’s going to be one of the people getting things worked out for you. I do contact students ahead of time to ask if there’s anything I need to know to help them succeed, so this is your opportunity to tell me that you need to see my face and my lips. I’m known for being a tutor that will do just about anything to make sure my students do well, so please tell me how I can make things work for you.

(I’m not going into what needs to happen in a K-12 setting because if your kid has hearing problems, you’re probably hooked up with a 504 plan and know your Special Services people well. I speak from experience because my kiddo has mild/moderate hearing loss and wears hearing aids, so we have a deaf/hard-of-hearing teacher that is part of his IEP team.)

— 6 —

If you are pushing back against the mandate because wearing a mask is merely inconvenient for you, please understand that we do not have to accommodate you in the way you desire. I am absolutely happy to accommodate someone with a proven and legitimate need, but “I don’t wanna wear a mask” and “mah rightz!” are not legitimate needs. If you show up at the door of the classroom where I am working and throw a temper tantrum because I’m insisting that you put on a mask, I’m going to call campus security and have you removed from the building. I’m not going to yell at you, but I’m not going to let you disturb my students.

We’re not heartless (and my program is dedicated to student success), so we *WILL* have information on the accommodation that we’ll provide… which is getting to access all of our services online. All of us working this fall have tutored online before, some of us for 6 quarters!

— 7 —

Please understand that we’re doing the best we can. This pandemic is unlike anything that has happened in the USA in the last hundred years. We are doing the best we can to keep everyone safe while meeting people’s needs.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.