Covid-19 lockdown day 7: 'Everyone has joined us'

College teacher Sarah Simons is halfway through her two weeks in isolation when the rest of the UK joins her in lockdown

Sarah Simons

Halfway through her Coronavirus isolation fortnight, Sarah Simons has been joined by the rest of the UK

At the start of day 7, we were at the beginning of the end. Thank chuff for that. One more week and our family could break free from its self-isolation holding pen and rejoin the real world, at a safe distance, of course. Oh, how I long to run up the aisles of Lidl with my arms triumphantly outstretched, like Julie Andrews up that hill.

I’m still emitting a low growl over so many FE colleagues telling me that they are expected to wallop an entire course online in a day and a half, without having the skills or confidence to do so. It’s not just knowing what buttons to press, it’s understanding that tipping a wheelbarrow-load of resources on to Google Classrooms doth not "an online course" make.

I totally get that everyone on every level is working out how to keep on trucking, but this idea that it’s "business as usual gone digital" is not helpful. Of course, I have no idea if my reaction is misplaced – did I mention, I’ve been shut away in my tower, like a middle-aged Rapunzel, for a week and may be going doolally? DID I MENTION THAT?

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Our coronavirus food parcel

My son’s mate kindly stopped by, leaving on the doorstep a basic essentials shop that he’d done for us. I dared to dream he’d drop off a bag of spuds, maybe some eggs and a pint of milk. His care package for our family of three comprised of three slabs of Dairy Milk, three bags of Haribos and a big bottle of Coke (full fat, obvs). I was delighted.

We’re going with a new approach to my son’s schooling. It seems a bit mean to expect him to plough on with subjects he’s not keen on when that study will have no impact on his GCSE grades – he’s already put loads of work in. So we’re creating a curriculum of films, documentaries, art, books and music for him to wade through. Stuff that will add to his cultural education and will support the film production course that he hopefully starts at college in September.

It adds some structure to the day and it gives us all more interesting stuff to talk about. Hitchcock’s bold casting of a handsome all-American boy to play Norman Bates, the far-reaching influence of Prince’s music, the modern-day ramifications of the Frost/Nixon interview.

Shit got real by mid-afternoon. First of all, I read that Netflix may have to lower the quality of streaming across Europe to accommodate the accelerated usage, and if that wasn’t bad enough, I spoke to my dad. He had a really nasty cough all of a sudden, though in his usual reaction to my concern he assured me that "it be reet". I parked that worry for now but was very clear with him that I would be borderline stalking him by phone and I don’t give a monkey’s if that makes me a fusspot.

We waited for the government update at 5pm but it didn’t happen. My dad still sounded rough when I called him later, and I was instantly on edge hearing how uncharacteristically emotional he was. My mind started galloping towards emergency services, respirators, intensive care units, but as it turned out he’d had the telly on and accidentally watched Beaches. Panic over.

Our lad sloped into the living room at 8.20pm and plonked down in front of the telly, waiting for Boris. Fiona Bruce handed over to Downing Street. She seemed too calm – what did she know that we didn’t? Then it cut to the image of the prime minister sitting at a desk, Union flag beside him, talking directly into the camera. It looked like a scene from a Churchill biopic that’d run out of budget before casting the lead. But the visual cues told us the announcement was going to be a big ‘un. We all sat bolt upright.

And there it was.

So… now everyone’s joining us in lockdown, for at least another three weeks. Shit just got even realer.

Sarah Simons works in colleges and adult community education in the East Midlands and is the director of UKFEchat. She tweets @MrsSarahSimons



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