Week One Is in the Books; Just Thirteen More to Go

Well, it looks like we survived the first week back at school without having to reverse our plans.

And I think that’s all we can do, just focus on getting through one week at a time.

Besides a minor glitch right before school started, Villanova’s students seem to be following all the guidelines that have been asked of them – wearing masks and staying socially distant. I’ll admit that it is a bit odd teaching to a room full of students with masks on while wearing a mask myself, but after a while, you almost forget about the masks. And the smell of disinfectant is always in the air since the students clean their desks after each class with sanitizing wipes.

But those are fairly standard operating procedures during the pandemic.

There is one unique accommodation Villanova offered compared to other universities. and that is providing each student with a portable chair. Here was the one-sentence announcement, almost hidden in the multi-page back to campus plan that was released at the end of June:

โ€œEach student will be provided with a portable chair to facilitate moving classes outside when feasible.

The portable chair concept soon became something of a cultural phenomenon at the University and in just a few days it even had its own unofficial Instagram page – Portable Chairs of Villanova

And while at first it may have seemed a bit odd seeing all of the freshmen carrying their chairs around with them during orientation, now it seems like a stroke of genius.

When I drove past campus last night I noticed many students, not just freshmen, sitting outside by themselves or in groups, using their portable chair. The chairs make it easy for the students to socialize outside of their dorm rooms, and when finished they can return to the relative isolation of their dorm room. The fear was, and is, that dorm rooms would be a breeding ground for COVID-19. So the chairs provide a nice incentive to avoid being cooped up in such an environment all day long.

I don’t know if any teachers have tried to hold class outside using the chairs, but I am quite tempted to do so. It would be a great way to remember the semester, and I’m sure I can get a blog post out of it.

In the meantime, we anxiously await to see how we get through our first full weekend back. Our President could not have stated it any better what he expects from the students, in a video just released today:

Fingers crossed that I’ll be making a similar post next week. And if we are successful in making it to week 14, perhaps we will all point to the humble lawn chair as the best protection against COVID-19…

*image from Instagram

49 thoughts on “Week One Is in the Books; Just Thirteen More to Go

  1. I can’t quite make out from the picture whether “portable chairs” means ones that move easily. Do they have wheels and some locking system on them?

    Congratulations on a successful first week. My writer’s group meets for four hours, and it’s not that cumbersome any more other than the occasional fogging of glasses.

    I think the real test for the students will be how they act when not in class. Hopefully, there is some carryover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the portable chairs are ones that fold up into a carrying pack with straps that go over your shoulders. they are not on wheels.

      Yes, the good old fogging up of glasses. My mask also keeps slipping down off my nose; I probably keep pushing it up and squezzing it 50 times in a 50 minute class.

      And yes, this weekend will be a big test.

      Here is a link to a picture of the chair:

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds like a powerful and probably effective message from your U president. I saw the “minor glitch” in the news. I get the sense he’s trying very hard to keep that from happening again.

    I can’t imagine students doing accounting outside, especially if its windy. But I’ll bet that would be a lot of fun to teach al fresco.

    I hope the rest of your semester goes as swimmingly as your first week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess the President has to take a hard line, but I was kind of shocked when he said that if we do have to shut down, it would be for the whole year, not just this semester.

      And this semester I am not teaching accounting; I am teaching an intro to business class that probably lends itself more to the possibility of being outside than an accounting class would.

      This weekend will be a big test…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Personally, I don’t like social distancing rules for young people, but there’s so much public pressure on the universities, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I hope your school passes the test.


  3. Congratulations to the Villanova community. A successful first week deserves an appropriate celebration for getting over this hurdle. The university has thought things through very well. I’m glad I’m not making the calls about school, sports, etc..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am also happy that I am not making those big decisions, because no matter which way you go, you will be criticized and there will be a lot of Monday Morning quarterbacking.

      I just heard the Big East, of which Villanova is a part, has postponed all Fall sports…

      Fortunately, that does not include basketball, at least not yet…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. glad you made it and people were acting safe, hopefully they will do the same in their off time. this gives me hope for my class, which begins in a few weeks

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on your first week back. Love the idea of taking your class outside, even if it is just a ploy for an easy blog post. I think a little change is always good. The President delivered his words beautifully. Gifted speaker. I think you can expect the best from your student body over the weekend. And to expect less would diminish all the intangible teaching that goes on in a Villanova education. I would hope the sense of compassion and community imbued outside the lecture hall will be a hallmark. So, Monday class outside professor Q?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ll wait to have class outside until it’s a topic I’m a little more comfortable free-wheeling with; this Monday’s topic is globalization – that’s a bit more challenging…

      The President used to be chair of the theater department, so he is quite comfortable with public speaking.

      Fingers crossed for this weekend…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hold on, my friend! Doesn’t globalization just beg to be outside? Of course, I am drawn more to the theatricality of theme than the practicality of instruction, so there’s that. I hope the kids are farsighted enough to police themselves well, but time will tell…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. it’s such a wide-ranging topic that could go in so many directions, many of which I don’t think I could talk about intelligently. Thus, I plan to put some slides together with some focused questions that keeps the class better on task.

        Now if the topic were entrepreneurship, then that could be more freewheeling, and I’d be more comfortable letting the topic go where it may. Plus I have lots of personal stories to share of how NOT to run a small business… ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your President sounds a wise man, and hopefully youโ€™ll all be safe in his care. Iโ€™m a little worried about the three guys in your photo who donโ€™t appear to have received the memo about foldable chairs, though – I hope the ground wasnโ€™t damp…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, we have a great President at our University. and he is drawing a hard-line here.
      I guess the chairs are optional for the students, and if you opt not to bring one, then you might have to face the consequences… ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was impressed by him, Iโ€™d have confidence in him if he were responsible for my childโ€™s education.

        Those consequences might be uncomfortable! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Lori! I think there was a collective sigh of relief to get through the first week so that we can get a sense of how things would work. But we all need to remain vigilant, since there is still a long way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love how we can be creative and adapt to circumstances. There must be many business examples equivalent to the portable chair. Perhaps this is a lesson for the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So glad you made it through the first week and yes, week by week! I think the portable chairs is the best idea I’ve heard so far of any proposed plans to keep schools open. Any & all schools that are not remote learning. I hope you do take your classes outdoors. You only have a few weeks of really nice weather before the cold comes & why not enjoy it? I’ll keep praying all of you stay safe! My grandkids go back to school on Monday and I’m terrified! All are in elementary except one who is starting high school. She is ESE & my daughter can’t even get a counselor on the phone. Scary stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. my one granddaughter didn’t get to start. She woke up sick this morning and then her & my daughter had to go get tested for COVID before she can go to school. Ugh! The youngest went & she had a blast. 1st grade and smart as a whip! The oldest won’t start until next week & after the teacher’s union won in court today, the school districts can now decide what to do. Hillsborough County in Tampa decided to do 4 weeks of elearning & reevaluate. BIG DEAL that the judge favored for the teachers instead of the state dictatorship via the white house dictatorship. Did I say that out loud? You bet…as I was typing, I was talking to myself! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, they are folding chairs that fit right into a carrying back that you can put over your shoulder. I am planning an outside class one day next week. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates…

      Liked by 1 person

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