lauantai 14. maaliskuuta 2020

Kids at home - 5 Ways We deal with Covid-19 Quarantine in Finland


The Corona virus is coming - what does it mean for us? 

Today in English because this is a global issue...

It has now reached Finland. Today 68 new cases diagnosed, it's a growing curve as you know. We are 2-3 weeks from the widespread epidemic which on estimate will last 8-10 weeks. Since Thursday I have worked from home. University of Jyväskylä is my main employer and it has moved *almost all activities* online. Lucky for me, I can work online no problem. I've been working from China for years, from Europe, from hotel rooms to cafes and indeed occasionally, from my own home. I have 50% teaching in my work plan which means that I have some lectures running. Luckily my colleague Eetu before his untimely death last year, had given me a legacy. He passed on to me a master thesis seminar entirely online. So I thought that online last year also. For me, this requires no new skills. I have my lecture notes in Moodle, where students also send their homework and thesis for review. I have already for years now mainly supervised over Whatsapp or Skype. You can book me or chat me - ask questions with low threshold. I have a recorded pattern of answers to each stage where they need help: Creating a well formulated research question... Tables and figures on how to present summaries of their findings and so on.

World's largest distance learning experiment experience 

However, what is much more interesting is what is happening in Italy... I worked with Italians since many years now and I have many of them in my consortium of Learntech Accelerator. Maybe you guys know but Italian schools went to lock down on 18th of February over night. The teachers' did not have specific training. They did not have software. They did not have hardware. But they were clever and they figured it out. For me personally, being an Information Systems and technology acceptance scholar - this fascinating. This is so interesting that we established a group on facebook for teachers' to share what works well in teaching at Covid-19 times, what doesn't. In 3 days it has 300 members. I can tell you that I've never personally been a part of so many people moving towards one cause. It gives me hope that this crisis will unite people rather than create divide. 

Economic effects of the Corona virus

I would also point out that I am very privileged. There is a divide in our society - to those who can work online and those who cannot. In my personal life, even though my income is less affected by the corona situation, that is not the case on all money coming into the household of course with my spouse working on private sector with physical labor. In this situation, I would say: Risk management is the key. It is a great choice not to be working on the same field or to have income only from one source. It is like the stock market rules - divide, divide, divide. Even in the case of the crisis, be prepared. So if we are stuck in our homes for 3 months from now, I can still write papers - apply for project funding - supervise and teach students... It's not so bad. Most likely we will not run out of tuna, macaroni or toilet paper...  But I do feel for those who are loosing money rabidly thanks to events being cancelled, thanks to people not buying things... Restaurants, gyms, hotels... These are dark times as they have to pay their employees, pay their rents... And at the same time there is no income... So many companies will go bankrupt. It is a sad time we live in from this perspective.

But onto some less grim notes - The schools in Finland have not yet closed. Well, most of them have not. One argument in Great Britain was that they won't close schools because if they do, people push their children onto the grandparents who then die because they are in the danger group being old and with some existing illnesses in lungs and heart. Well, I would hope Finns not to be this stupid... But you never know. My kid(s) is going nowhere near his grandmother, great aunts or uncles. On Thursday I cancelled a baby sitting already stored for that afternoon - my great aunt and uncle are in good shape and relatively young, but why take the risk if I don't absolutely have to..? I have had a slight throat ache, but not really a cold even. Overall, I don't want to risk it. These are hard decisions to make when you might have no other option to bring in the bread. I did, so cartoons for the kid it was and I finished my work at home with him cooing in the kitchen. If the schools are open, Tops will go to school. His unit is completely isolated from others anyways - there is six kids and six adults in the Autism class. It can't be that dangerous. Yes he could also be at home but for him it's also psychologically better to go to schools as that is his routine.

In our case as we are combining more than one family into ours - it also means that we have a family member returning from UK next week. This most likely means I will keep my son for 2 weeks in a row before he can return to his father. Fair enough, I have been doing 'less time with him' anyways last year and I do enjoy his company immensely. I am of course worried over the grandmas and grandpas in UK - it seems to be a jungle out there...  

I think every family must make their own choices, what is best for them. That will be the correct one.

 Well, when I started this post, I promised 5 ways to spend the time if you are stuck in a quarantine with your kids at home. This is our set of hints:

1. Go for a long walk. - We happen to live in a rather beautiful (but cold) part of Europe and therefore we often walk 'around the lake' which is to see the beautiful bridge of Mattilanniemi. Finnish authorities have lined that you can go walking outside as long as you don't go within 2m of any human... And they recommend it based on the effects of walking to you psychological well being.


2. Climb a tree.  Well just because it is fun.

...Or a climbing frame for that matter...

3. Google map the parks/playgrounds close to you. Visit one that you haven't been to yet with a car. We went went to Sarvivuori Action Park today. It was reachable by car, but so far away (11minutes!) that it clearly had only the close neighborhood kids. Kept our kids well entertained for 2h and even the parents were sweating.
4. Dig up an old childhood game that you played at Youth - for us it was 'Swing-baseball (Kiikkupesis) '! I can't believe that these Central Finland kids have never even heard of that. So much excitement for like 40minutes of running around a playground...
 5. Maybe there is an outdoors sport that you have forgotten... You can still ski at places in Finland... Guess what we will be doing tomorrow...
 Overall I want to say to all of my friends around Europe, in China and around the world. We all feel this now. It is time to reflect our humanity now. What is it like to make the hard and easy decisions which being a part of our society has made us forget...? We don't have to struggle, usually. Our loved ones don't usually die... Except sometimes they do. It is now the time to think about our actions, our children, our interest towards others around us. Everyone's time here is limited. We live in times when most people 'die of old age'. But most of us have lost someone sooner than expected. Today is the time to think about what matters and act upon that. Take care people, with the most tedious of problems like tolerating your kids being home all the time. You can do it!

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