The Seasonless Year under COVID-19



I can’t tell what season it is.

In academia, we have a defined year with three seasons. It starts in fall with the first day of classes, and fall semester ends with Christmas. In January, the spring semester rolls around, and it’s of slightly different character than fall semester, lacking the tinsel and greens of December and adding the bacchanalia of Spring Break. The school year ends at the beginning of May, and even though I supervise internships and take an online course for my Disaster Mental Health certification, the change in routines — no faculty meetings, flexible schedule, time to take a vacation — marks that a season has passed. Until the end of summer, when we start preparing our classes for the school year.

I have no such thing this year.

We started online classes in March, which made the school year feel like an endless prep period, typing on our computers and missing the face-to-face interaction. I’m answering emails from students at 9 PM and at 5 AM, so I feel like I’m always working. We’re going from that to summer — but the freedom of travel has evaporated with COVID-19’s sequestering.  So I’ll spend the summer working with my interns online using Zoom, and the flexibility of my time will not matter. Days are melting into a sameness, and that sameness is work without any defined boundaries. 

I admit that I’m getting a decent amount of writing done because I have to do something with the time I’m not working on student stuff. And I’m grateful that I can shelter in place, as my age and weight makes me at risk for a more severe infection. But I find my rejoicing at summer terribly muted, because there is no summer. I wonder when there will be a summer again.

A reading that seems to corroborate my current feelings:
https://theconversation.com/will-covid-19-be-the-death-of-summer-vacation-135776

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