Buckle up! It’s gonna be a rough ride…

I’m scared.

There, I said it. I’m bloody scared!

This whole pandemic situation freaks me out, and it’s exhausting.

I try to do my job as an academic – teaching, supervision, research – while generally keeping in mind the safety of myself and those that I’m responsible for, being my team and my students. Before this winter semester began, mid October, COVID-19 cases were slowly on the way up, similarly to last year, the only difference being that numbers this year were higher. I knew many people were now vaccinated, but especially for that reason, something didn’t add up. Numbers were higher than before vaccines existed, in only a 30 percent segment of the population that should be ‘suitable’ as hosts for the virus. Somehow that didn’t sound credible. Perhaps it’s my limited understanding of epidemiology, but it seemed to me that the virus was simply spreading outside as well as inside the vaccinated population. I think these signs were quite obvious from September or so.

Now the universities decided late September that – in contrast to the previous three semesters – things would rerurn to normal. People on campus would all be vaccinated, recovered or tested, but they would be present. I never understood the decision. I was never asked for my opinion either. I think no one asked students what they thought. Online teaching took us time to adapt to, but struggles were overcome, and things now finally ran smoothly. I didn’t ask for presence teaching, I didn’t need it. Online worked fine for me. No. It was sort of pushed on us from the highest ranks of university. I disagreed with this cluster fuck of a decision from the start, and have felt uncomfortable since. But being the obedient little minion that I am, I spent the last three weeks doing various formats of presence teaching, and a very minor component of online teaching.

Three weeks. We’re only about three weeks in!

Yesterday there were 50.000 new cases in Germany. The weekly incidence rate lies over 400 per 100.000 for Bavaria. COVID-19 is skyrocketing. All around me vaccinated people are turning sick. Yes, mostly mild symptoms, but they’re sick nonetheless.

This just makes me really really wonder what we are doing in our teaching. Are we creating massive silent super spreader events in our classes?

I’m not sure what to think. I’m vaccinated. I’m not afraid of what the virus will do to me. I fear for others. For those that decided not to get vaccinated (please do), or those that were denied access. I fear for my kids. They’re unvaccinated. As are most kids. Why should they suffer for the stupid decisions we make as adults? I think it’s another clear example of governing bodies putting financial gain and status above the well-being of the larger population.

Today, my colleague and I decided to cancel all our presence teaching. If universities don’t take responsibility for the safety and well-being of students and employees, it’s up to us.

I will not play a role in this shit show.

I will from now on serve my students from the protected area I call Zoom. Please join me in my safe space!

Now buckle up, it’s gonna be a rough winter…

I’m scared, but this is okay!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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