COVID19 Work

School, Conferences, Etc

October 13, 2020


A heads back to in-person school today. There are only 3 others from her class going back, and they will be stationed in the back of another classroom (rumor has it there are 9 kids returning to that class, so I guess 13 total?).

We left it up to her and she ultimately wanted to return, but has the option of going back to remote if it doesn’t work out.

(I also wonder about the possibility of switching classes to the teacher who IS going to be physically present in that classroom — seems logical right? — but haven’t wanted to broach that matter yet until we see how things go.)

Conference Thoughts

I have patients today instead of Wednesday (Monday & Wednesday are my ‘normal’ clinical days) because there’s a virtual conference Weds – Friday for pediatric program directors (shout out to APPD!). I’m sort of looking forward to it but mostly mourning the fact that I could really use a conference right now.

The idea of checking into a hotel and getting to be alone for 3-4 days and focus on work and big picture thinking and (yep) self-care . . . man it just sounds amazing. I fear that this may be the new normal, and while I am all for efficiency and cost savings and yes, a much environmental impact . . .

I’m still sad about the possibility of not going to conferences again. It always felt a little magical and insanely “grown up” and too good to be true to get to fly somewhere and stay in a (paid-for, nice!) hotel to just learn and network for 3-4 days. Sometimes (endo conferences especially) I got to connect with old friends and mentors — taking scenic runs together or meeting up at fun restaurants. And, let’s be real — it was also really nice and healing to have a few days entirely off from parenting. MAN did I look forward to those stretches on the calendar!

I hope they are not gone forever.


Pic from what Genevieve calls “Mingo Gardens” over weekend (A’s friend was to her right but I cropped her out for privacy 🙂 )
Scenes from “Beauty salon” last night. OMG.
(Contrary to what is shown G is getting closer to potty training! I’d say she’s 60% there . . .)

OH!!! And I heard a rumor playgrounds are going to open!!!!! HALLELUJAH!


  • Reply CBS October 13, 2020 at 6:21 am

    Oh conferences! I just find work travel a weirdly restorative experience, even if I probably end up working more evenings. I travelled pretty often in the before-times, a few days away after 4-6 weeks and just found it really helpful for my mental health. I’d do ridiculous skincare, catch up on work, read novels, eat takeaway sushi. It was also when I did my errand running and shopping, especially when I was visiting cities with better shopping.

    I’m glad we’ve all figured out Zoom so I don’t need to get on a 4 hour train ride for an hour meeting but I do hope I get to do 2-3 trips a year once we go back to “normal”. Otherwise, I may need to check myself into a hotel in my city and replicate the experience.

  • Reply gwinne October 13, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Yeah….I had a virtual conference a couple weeks back. It was not the same. More than that, without childcare it was really impossible for me to attend more than a couple sessions. While I’ve enjoyed small scale virtual events (like hour long things) that can now be attended from anywhere, the format just doesn’t work for multi-day events and planners should stop pretending it does.

  • Reply KGC October 13, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I suspect that virtual conferences will NOT become the new norm. Anyone who has been to big meetings knows that half of the value comes from networking and the social aspect, which can’t be recreated virtually. Things may look different for a year or so (or 2-3 even?) but I cannot imagine that we will never go back to in person meetings. Perhaps there will always be a virtual option (live streaming of more sessions, maybe?) for those who want it, but I am really holding onto the hope of going back to normal someday! Selfishly, this is also because I want to return to the European meeting I attend most summers since it is an excellent way to see a new city on my university’s dime :). (Totally bummed that next summer’s meeting in Milan will likely still be virtual!)

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns October 13, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Conferences aren’t a thing in my industry (financial services) but I can see how they are enjoyable for you! I think business travel will never return to what it was in my industry and I am super glad about this as I did not enjoy traveling since having a child… I think you will need a really good business case to do business travel (at least in my role) and I am a-ok with that. But I miss personal travel and hope we can resume that in 2022? I’m not a ‘travel w/ a baby’ kind of mom (I know it’s possible and enjoyable for some, but not for us…), so by spring of 2022, our son will be a little over 1 and we’ll hopefully be able to go somewhere warm. Minnesota weather is just awful in the winter so I will be sad to be stuck here for all of 2021!

    I hope A’s return to school goes well. Does seem odd to just put them in the back of another class??? I wonder if more kids will return to in person after the new year. I feel like some might prefer to keep their kids out until we get through the holidays so they can see grandparents and such?

  • Reply omdg October 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Interested to see how attending school goes for you guys. The public schools in our county have refused to say what criteria we have to meet to even consider a return to in-person learning, which frustrates the crap out of me. However compared to many regions our cases remain quite low. In a similar vein, there was a newspaper article with the headline, “5,000 cases of CV in Michigan linked to return to in-person school,” but then when you read the actual article, 4,864 cases were among university students. It was so misleading. And of course cases in our area are increasing, as expected. The time to do in-person learning was over the summer through right now, when students could be outside, and community prevalence was low. Of course THAT was politically untenable. Sigh.

    • Reply gwinne October 13, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      And, OMDG, those cases were likely not due to *in person* classes at universities. We’ve had 2500+ cases since Sept and almost all classes are virtual….it’s students in off campus housing who are taking *online* courses. ARGH.

      • Reply omdg October 13, 2020 at 1:23 pm

        Gah I KNOW!!! Anyone who doesn’t know by now that partying is the main way this gets passed around has got to be living under a rock. It’s just so frustrating. Honestly, to me the biggest risk seems to be in the daycares because toddlers are snot machines and it is so hard to get them to comply with mask wearing and hand washing. Yet, there have been surprisingly few outbreaks in childcare centers which suggests to me that this is controllable. This is not to say that there is zero risk to return to in-person school, it’s just that we need to start making decisions based on science and reason rather than fear and political posturing.

        • Reply Florence October 13, 2020 at 2:20 pm

          Happy that A gets to go to in-person school! Hopefully it is a positive experience 😊

          I personally hate conferences (medical resident in Canada). Ours are typically not paid or only partially paid, and almost always require spending $1000+ on flight, hotel, conference fees, food. Which I would really rather spend on fun travel or something else entirely, as travel is a drag with little kids. I’ve been able to avoid going to conferences while breastfeeding, thank god, because exclusive pumping x 72 hours sounds awful. So I’m hoping the no-conference thing lasts 😋 I do have a few virtual ones soon, that I’m looking forward to actually.

    • Reply Grateful Kae October 13, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      That is terribly misleading! Shame on them. 🙁

      Our boys’ (private K-8) school has been back for a month now and there have been 2 cases in students, neither which originated at school (both kids had known exposure to someone positive outside of school) and neither of which spread to a single other student or teacher within the school. This has been at least somewhat reassuring that the millions of protocols they put in place to keep our school safe seem to be working!

      • Reply Irene October 13, 2020 at 1:40 pm

        My friends and I are pulling out our hair about this aspect of the coverage too! To mention nothing of the differences between young and older kids. It seems willful.

  • Reply Eva October 13, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I’m not sure if conference travel will return to normal.
    What I’m seeing within Europe already is limitations to flying (i.e., within a certain distance now getting permission to fly for a conference is typically not granted and taking the train instead is encourage/requested – but that puts an end to these meetings that only last a day).

    Personally, I don’t mind having to travel less to conferences. Getting to a conference in the US from South America for me always means a 5-hr red-eye flight, and with the years, I seem to need more time to recover from those. As an introvert, I find the combination of having to go out to eat, conferencing, networking etc quite taxing. I tend to compensate with self-care activities, buying presents for my family, nice food, scenic runs, and lots of reading – but I generally feel that I need 1-2 weeks to recover from such a trip. It also makes things at home quite complex, with my husband needing to travel to his projects on short notice, and my daughter generally not doing well without Mom. We had looked into traveling as a family to some conferences (my husband and I are in the same field) and hiring a sitter, but the extra cost (and extra flight tickets) is just not affordable. Plus – I have major flygskam: 75% of our household’s CO2 footprint comes from flights.

    While I miss the spontaneous conversations with colleagues, I hope I won’t have to return to the same level of travel as before. I also feel that with the amount of travel I had, I didn’t even get to enjoy visiting most cities. I was always rushing from place to place, thinking that I should go back to city X with “more time” to really explore – and it just never happens.

  • Reply Shelly October 13, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I am missing conferences too! Getting to network and relax with my professional friends is sorely missed right now. We have a big virtual meeting this week from Wed-Saturday. I am finding it impossible to block my calendar so I am juggling work and the conference. Also not giving up parenting makes it tricky. They tried to build in some networking but I am skeptical. I miss travel. I just got invited to do a review for a French agency and they might have the second round a year from now in Paris – I almost just want to say yes just at the thought of a possible paid trip to Europe, which I need like a hole in my head mid fall between work and kids, but it sounds amazing.

  • Reply Erica Sparky October 13, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    I miss conferences too. I’m supposed to present at a clinical conference this December, on a Saturday which is also my birthday and I’m not excited about doing that from my house! I’ have briefly considered checking into a hotel for 2 nights. I was talking with my colleague about how much we miss conferences – they are a special kind of fun. No parenting, nice hotels, good dinners, etc. I miss Conference Erica.

    • Reply Natasha October 14, 2020 at 1:05 am

      Conferences are a special
      Kind of fun!!
      I attended a virtual conference for 13 hours last Thurs and Fri- NOT the same!

  • Reply Dominique October 13, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    You should totally book a hotel in the area for yourself for 2 nights and do the self-care/big picture thinking stuff. Hotels are super cheap right now because there is no demand. I’ve done it three times since March – once to put the finishing touches on my dissertation and twice more because I needed to get out of the house. If you use the Hilton app you can do contactless check-in. I literally interacted with no one on my last stay.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.