For employed academics — especially with those who have school-age children — working from home can be hard. Here are two items that came across my desk this week:
Auto-reply from an administrator at one of the In Trust Center’s member schools
**Standing Reply During COVID-19**
Thank you for your email, which is important to me and I will reply as soon as possible.
Please note that that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered my working schedule. In addition to working from home for the duration of this public health crisis, the closure of schools and daycares in XXXXXXX means that my two children also are at home indefinitely. Like so many across XXXXXXX, my partner and I continue to attend to our two full-time careers while also finding ourselves as full-time stay-at-home parents who now homeschool our children.
For the week of April 27-May 1, 2020, I will have dedicated work days on Tuesday, April 28 (morning only); Wednesday, April 29; and Friday, May 1 (morning only). All other days this week I will be monitoring emails while also attending to my children's home and schooling needs. I will make every effort to reply to your email as soon as possible, though I appreciate your understanding if my response is delayed.
I’m a tenure track humanities professor. Like many, I’ve been seriously affected by the social distancing and shelter-in-place ordinances lately. It started when our institution announced we’d be switching everything online (I’d never taught online prior to this, though I’m fairly tech-savvy) and I had one week to get prepared. I worked 80 hours that first week. Ever since, I’ve been working 12-hour days, every day, to make sure classes are running adequately. I respond to emails from my countless anxious students within 24 hours (usually more like six hours). I’m exhausted. I feel more like a therapist than an instructor nowadays. I’m seeing my own therapist, but appointments are biweekly, and I feel like I need them daily. I’ve made myself available to my students as much as possible, and I feel guilty that I still have a job and remain safe (so far), while they’re struggling with unemployment, sick family members, and mental health issues.
I’ve tried establishing boundaries by limiting “email hours” and cutting back on check-in emails, but I still feel like I’m running on fumes. I give up on my boundaries so easily when another sob story comes through my inbox. Since I’m not tenured yet, I’m terrified of students complaining (which could lead to a denial of tenure when I’m up for review). How am I supposed to last another eight weeks of overtime when I can barely manage my own needs anymore?
—Not a Psychologist
Many people are struggling, in all kinds of ways. Do you have your own struggles or suggestions? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.