Monday, August 3, 2020

Upside-Down Albert

Yesterday I walked down to Hyde Park to meet up with my boss, Karen, for a little picnic. It was just me and her, and briefly her husband, and though we talked some business it was basically just a fun outing. I bought some crackers and cheese and olives and hummus, and she brought a six-pack -- Corona, of course -- and we sat on a blanket near the Albert Memorial, one of my favorite spots in the city.

The walk down there and back again, while not exactly effortless, wasn't too arduous. The weather was perfect, for one thing. I think I walked about ten miles or so. Sadly, I had to leave Olga at home -- she loves Hyde Park, but since I'm staying off public transportation right now, the walk would have been too far for her.

Karen and I first met on the steps of the memorial. I got there a few minutes before she did, and as I sat waiting I lay back on the pavement and took a picture of the view behind me. Upside-down Albert!

The park was pretty busy in places, as you can see from this photo of the bridge over the Serpentine. I was amused at the heron hanging out on the ledge. I guess that's a good vantage point for fishing. Of course nobody was social distancing but I think I was mostly successful in giving people a wide berth -- except when the family of six walked toward me on the sidewalk on Edgware Road, all abreast and literally blocking the entire pavement. I just held my breath and brushed past as well as I could. People!

I saw this guy on a narrow traffic island on Edgware Road near the Westway, possibly one of the busiest traffic junctions in northwest London and not the ideal place, I would think, to make a bed. But maybe he's paradoxically less likely to be harassed or bothered there.

My boss and I talked a lot about school opening. Right now, as I think I've mentioned, the plan is for all students to return to campus every day, and although we're employing social distancing in classrooms and mask-wearing during arrival, departure and class changes, I think all of us have a lot of questions about how this is going to work. That's a lot of people to have in the building every single day. It seems inevitable that someone's going to come down with coronavirus, and then we'll be in a mad scramble of notification and quarantining, and at what point would we have to shut down again? With the UK's numbers creeping back up, I suspect the plan may require modification -- fewer numbers of kids, staggered schedules or something.

We also talked about the library -- how to handle books and checkouts, sanitizing all the computer chargers each time they're returned, how to manage newspapers and magazines, that kind of thing. I think we're simply going to stop getting daily papers, and while we may maintain the magazine rack for now, we may also try to move more of those subscriptions online. I don't think people are going to want to handle paper periodicals.

Also, I've learned that the school has built two new offices right next to my desk, for a couple of administrators, and our copier and some other pieces of office equipment are now "homeless." So that's going to require reconfiguring the space a bit.

So much to think about!


Yorkshire Pudding said...

One should show deference towards one's leaders. It was disturbing to find you referring so casually to your boss as "Karen". My humble advice is that you should always call her Ms. Field. In the field of librarianship she is no doubt a giant compared with her Lilliputian minions.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Yes, so much to think about... plus those idiots out there. That upside-down view is beautiful. I've never even seen it rightside up.

Sharon said...

I love your two versions of the Albert Memorial. It's also one of my favorite spots in London. And, that heron on the bridge is great. He's just inches away from all those people. There is certainly a lot to think about when it comes to reopening schools. I have a friend who is a teacher and she is struggling with the lack of solid leadership when it comes to how to reopen. So much so that yesterday in our Sunday afternoon group Zoom session, she talked about taking early retirement.

gz said...

Love the upsidedown Albert. Seeing the usual from different angles makes you look at what you can see.

Hope they get the school organisation sorted...a definite nightmare headache.

Anonymous said...

So busy on the bridge. What is wrong with people that they don't understand staying apart?

Please don't get rid of magazines. People won't read them if they are online. Sanitise hands before and after using them. Ditto newspapers really.

I love the upside down photo of the memorial. I had to turn it the right way up to see if I had photographed it, and I have.

Mary said...

Our local school system initially planned to do a split schedule with kids in two groups, each spending two days (M/Th or T/Fr) in school and the other three days online. But the overwhelming response of teachers and parents was NO. It would have meant school buses with only 10 riders (instead of 45), etc etc. Logistical nightmare. So at least until January, classes will be virtual. But, they may not be flexible about the timing for getting school work done. Want kids online for 8.5 hours each day--signing in and out of classes every hour...not something young children are able to manage--nor can their working parents. Not making final plan announcement until August 14--just two weeks before school is supposed to start. I may be homeschooling my 6 year old grandson.

Edna B said...

Your Albert is really beautiful, right side up and upside down. Great photos. I love the one with the heron. It's good that you were able to have such a nice visit with your boss. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

37paddington said...

I will wait to hear how your reentry to the new school year goes, with great interest. I don't think paper is a particularly good conductor of the virus, but I could be wrong. I think computer keyboards might be more dicey, unless of course the kids have their own laptops. My husband got one of those UV boxes so we can disinfect our phones whenever we come in from the outside. Might be good for chargers?

Ms. Moon said...

Honestly- instead of these poorly thought-out plans for reopening, why can’t we just bite the bullet and live with all of the restrictions until we get a vaccine? It’s the only way we’re going to be able to get this thing under control.
I know, I know. There are millions of reasons to reopen businesses and schools but that is going to lead to so many more cases. Not only do people not follow the guidelines (obviously), we aren’t even certain what the best guidelines are.
I’m sorry, Steve, that you are going to be put into this position.

e said...

Re-opening is such a bad idea...I feel sorry for you and sorrier for Dave who will be more at risk with you working on site.

Red said...

As a retired teacher, I would not like to be in your situation. I can not see kids distancing. It's not in their DNA at this stage of their lives.

ellen abbott said...

I would never have noticed the heron in the picture of the bridge if you hadn't mentioned it. and the seems like a dangerous intersection to lay down for a nap. I know something needs to be done to continue kids' education but this push to reopen the schools just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. did you read about the summer sleepover camp where hundreds of kid got infected?

Linda Sue said...

The bridge looks as it always does, London is going to get smacked especially when flu season hits in the fall. Terrible ideas- open schools- act as though the city is following guidelines which clearly it is not- denial - can't happen sex without condom. Risky, deadly behaviors, as the U.S. is finding out full on! Schools that have opened with minimal attendance have already had to shut. Children are becoming ill. DUH! It is a bloody pandemic folks!

Anonymous said...

I worry about everyone who has to deal with the approaching school season and how to handle it. I agree with Ms Moon's comment. It's hard to imagine a smart way to do the reopening thing without a serious uptick in the spread of the virus. I so hope things work out. Love the photos, especially that heron. Wow!

Catalyst said...

Well, it's a lot to think about, yes, but it gets your mind off of your irritation at self-isolation. I suspect your school will have to shut down again fairly soon after re-opening. It seems like more and more schools in the U.S.A. are going to on-line only classes.

Allison said...

I do not envy you going back into the library. Confined spaces are bad. In Indiana a family had their kid Covid tested, decided not to wait for results, and sent him to school. He turned up positive. People!

Sabine said...

We just had these discussions recently with teacher friends. There are some secondary schools here that enable students and staff twice a week to test themselves for the virus. They receive their test results that same afternoon. There is scientific monitoring and all staff and students have been shown how to do the test.

jenny_o said...

I am so thankful I don't have kids in the school system now, because I'm sure my head would explode from the worry. There seems to be no safe way to do it. Once there's one case, it's pretty much game over because of how contagious it is and how long it takes to manifest. The camp that Ellen mentioned is now closed again. And they were taking many of the same steps as schools to help prevent illness. I don't know what the answer is, but it's worrying a lot of folks. I'd think Dave's work would be particularly dangerous because of the singing and instrumental instruction. So much deep breathing!!

Michael said...

My school system is going back and forth with whether or not teachers have to go in. As of now, teachers have to go into school to teach virtually. Evidently, there have been a slew of resignations due to Covid concerns, to they are rethinking it and are letting teachers teach from home with permission by the building principal. It is one big mess, isn't it?

Jenny Woolf said...

Kensington Gardens looks busy! I'm glad I don't have to try and figure out how to deal with getting the kids back to school. In some countries there are government guidelines but our govt only just seems to be keeping up doesn't it. Staggered classes seems best because at least the kids get to hang out with their friends and socialise. I'm starting to realise how important it is even for adults to just hang out. Zooming or talking on the phone just isn't enough. Good luck.

Elizabeth said...

That upside down picture is a perfect metaphor and a marvel at once!

Steve Reed said...

YP: We Americans are an informal lot -- as you no doubt remember from your sojourns there!

Mitchell: It is a beautiful monument, one of the best landmarks in London.

Sharon: Apparently several people from our school are also talking about not coming back, though I'm not sure whether that means retiring or working from home or what.

GZ: Sometimes just turning your head a different way offers a whole new visual experience!

Andrew: We'll see how the magazine use goes. The thing is, I doubt people will want to touch them even if we keep them.

Mary: Yeah, in some ways a partial schedule is worse than doing everything virtually. I guess it gives parents a break, but there are a lot of logistics to manage.

Edna: It IS a beautiful monument. Queen Victoria was heartbroken when Albert died and spent years in mourning afterwards.

37P: UV boxes? I don't know about this! I will look into it!

Ms Moon: I agree, but I think there's concern that keeping schools closed is really making kids suffer. Personally I would have LOVED it as a kid, but I always was good at keeping myself occupied.

E: I suspect we're going to eventually reopen on a smaller scale. We'll see!

Red: Yeah, both that and mask-wearing seem like unrealistic expectations in many ways. And I don't want to have to be a hall monitor, constantly badgering kids to keep their masks on, though I suppose it's inevitable.

Ellen: I did read that story about the camp! Argh!

Linda Sue: I am continually amazed at how many people disregard the rules.

Robin: I suspect that after reopening we're going to find that we have to close, or partially close, again.

Catalyst: Yeah, I think that's likely (as I said just above). But you're right -- at least it's something different!

Allison: At least our library has windows. Many rooms in the school are entirely enclosed. What were those parents thinking?!?!

Sabine: Interesting! I haven't heard about that, but I'd definitely be happy to have some kind of testing system.

Jenny-O: Yeah, that's the thing. It's inevitable that SOMEONE is going to come down with this virus, and then what does the school do? Will we do contact tracing and just send people home to quarantine who have had direct contact with that student, or will we close again altogether? One infected person has the potential to shut down the whole building.

Michael: It IS a big mess. I think virtual teaching has to be an option for some people. (Maybe for Dave.)

Jenny: Yeah, I can see how some degree of socializing or face-to-face contact is important and even essential. But everyone every day? That seems a bit much.

Elizabeth: Ha! I didn't really think about it metaphorically, but now that you mention it...

The Bug said...

I've heard that the virus doesn't live very well on soft porous things like paper - the magazines might be ok. Maybe. At least that's what I think THIS week :)