With pubs and restaurants closed; cinemas, theatres and concert halls silent; and romantic strolls with potential suitors punishable by a hefty fine, it can be difficult to find love in the time of coronavirus.
But for lonely teachers longing to spark up a budding romance during the lockdown, all is not lost.
Dubbed education's own Cilla Black, one history teacher has stepped in to help his peers find their perfect partners – all from the comfort of their own homes (and abiding by strict social distancing measures).
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Using the power of social media, matchmaker Tom Rogers has organised hundreds of "edudates" as part of a unique "online speed dating day for teachers", taking place between 12pm today and 12am tomorrow.
Roughly 150 teachers have signed up for the #edudate event, during which they will each have up to 10 dates over WhatsApp video call, at 10 minutes apiece.
Teacher romance in the coronavirus lockdown
Mr Rogers explained that all participants have been anonymised, so the meetings stay as true as possible to a blind date scenario.
Teachers will be sent only a phone number, accompanied by a code, which they may use to contact their matches – but communication will be strictly limited to the 10-minute date window.
Additional contact is only permitted when organising a meeting time, and 15 minutes before the date is due to start.
Participants have been told not to share their name, WhatsApp profile picture or any other identifying details, in order to keep them completely anonymous.
They have also been sent a list of suggested conversation starters, including:
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- Where in the world would you most like to be this weekend and why?
- If you were on a desert island, what would be the one thing you would take as your luxury item?
- How do you like to spend Saturday afternoon?
- What makes you laugh?
Once all the dates are over, Mr Rogers will ask teachers to send him the codes of the people they would like to see again.
Being a romantic soul, I'm so excited to hear the happy stories that will arise from this.— Simone Lively - Science 🔬👩🔬☣☕ (@simiisme) April 14, 2020
I love First Dates & Undateables, and this sounds like a similarly positive idea 🙂
He will then contact participants with their positive matches – where both parties have expressed interest in a second date.
Mr Rogers said on Twitter that, as dating has been "practically destroyed" by the coronavirus outbreak, he hoped the mass event "could get some teachers out there less lonely", and perhaps even discover the next Mark and Zoe Enser – a married couple who met on a Tes forum.
Education has its own Cilla Black! https://t.co/H1942M0XYd— Andy Lamb (@MrAndrewLamb) April 14, 2020
Asked why he decided to set up the speed dating event, he told Tes: "There's just so many single teachers. I've tweeted a few times about lonely teachers, and it's got such a massive response.
"I just thought, 'I'm in lockdown, I don't have much to do, I'm living in a hotel, why not just do this?'"