I’ve been working remotely for a while now and feel lucky that I did not have to make the adjustment to working from home—barking dogs during meetings, anyone?—that so many other people did. But life is certainly altered in my family.
Our high school senior (Rhodybound!) transitioned to distance learning two months ago with ease, but her social life has suffered at a time when friendships and school connections are paramount. Senior prom has been canceled, as has any traditional notion of a commencement ceremony. Reasonable facsimiles are all lacking.
My 92-year-old mom is in a nursing home, and I have not seen her for more than two months. The initial weeks were tough; but the staff are excellent and have scheduled weekly FaceTime calls. Still, it is impossible not to feel anxious about her well-being and how long it might be before I can hug her.
But the pandemic has presented an unexpected and welcome opportunity to reconnect with Sunshine Menezes, Ph.D. ’05 and her team at URI’s Metcalf Institute. (I am an alumna of Metcalf’s fellowship program for journalists.) In March, as communications director with the nonprofit News Literacy Project, I recommended a colleague to serve as a panelist for a proposed Metcalf webinar on pandemic news coverage and misinformation.
After a couple of meetings—on Zoom, of course—that suggestion grew into a partnership between the Metcalf Institute and the News Literacy Project for a four-part webinar series that drew hundreds of participants. It was a great collaboration, and we were able to give people lifelong skills to avoid misinformation regardless of the topic, but most importantly now, when it can be a matter of life and death.
As far as being stuck at home; some days are easier than others. Virtual happy hours, long walks with Rufus–the best dog in the world—and reruns of “30 Rock” all help. At the end of the day, I know I am luckier than most.