Online Again, Apparently

This morning I was eager for the day. In my first class, I was going to introduce my students to different kinds of economic systems. In the next two classes (separate sections), we were going to start Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The following class would be devoted to Chapters 22-23 of To Kill a Mockingbird; the next class would be a review lesson, and the final class of the day would be an introduction to the U.S. Constitution. All of this happened, and it went well. But in late morning we read and heard Viktor Orbán’s announcement of new measures to combat the coronavirus–measures that resemble those taken in Austria. Assuming Parliament approves them tomorrow, all high schools and universities will go online from Wednesday through at least the next thirty days.

And that’s only a fraction of it. There will be a nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Restaurants will be closed except for home delivery. There will be a general ban on events. Theatres will be closed. Amateur sporting events will be prohibited (professional events can take place). The government will reimburse 80% of the cost of bookings made at hotels for the first 30 days of this lockdown (since no tourists will be allowed to stay at hotels). In return, hotels must not lay off staff and must pay them. Restaurant workers’ jobs will be protected too, through a similar arrangement. Hospital workers, elementary school teachers, kindergarten teachers, and nursery workers will have to be tested weekly; how that will happen, and who will pay for it, I don’t know.

So here we go. I am ready to switch to online teaching, but I long for the day when we can do everything again: sing together, eat together, talk about literature, act in plays, shoot hoops, go to the movies, travel where we want, visit people, without masks, without worries, not just here, but around the world. How strange that ordinary life from a year ago has become a dream. Well, it’s not that strange after all, since it was not that ordinary, nor is life ever, if you take it in.

I took all three pictures today.

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