Hello loves. This is not a planned post for me. Hell, it’s probably not going to have any of the proper formatting or branding that I traditionally do with my posts (which I’m ironically talking about tomorrow for Let’s Talk Bookish). Hell, I might even take it down after it allows me to process my feelings, I’m not sure. This is a post of rage.
Today, thanks to the CDC’s recommendations to remove mask mandates across most of the country, my university has followed suit, removing our mask mandate policy everywhere except for classrooms. But, they also plan to remove it in classrooms starting the week after spring break.
The rationale by the CDC is because they are switching to a community level risk assessment model, determining if communities are at high risk or not (of dying or taking up a hospital bed, not just of catching COVID) to implement mandates and protection, instead of implementing mandates widely. Despite the US crossing to almost 80 million cases and 955,000 deaths. Almost a million deaths. Despite new variants still being discovered and spreading because no one in power could put the health of a nation, of individuals, of people, over greed, capitalism and selfishness.
In my own situation, we worked remotely for almost two years due to the pandemic, before the university forced us to return in-person. Our office moved to hybrid, claiming that it was an “impossible feat” and constantly reminding us to be grateful we even get two days from home. Because, according to them, since we are student facing, we must offer in-person services every day. It’s what the students demand (despite having no data). And despite my virtual appointment numbers outweighing my in-person appointment numbers every.single.week.
This semester, after having no positive COVID cases in our office for the first 3 years of the pandemic, in the first six weeks of the semester, we’ve had half a dozen advisors catch COVID. With mask mandates in place. HALF A DOZEN. In a team of only 20!
But now, they are removing them. Just days before our busiest advising period of the season, where each advisor will average 10+ student appointments (30 minutes each) a day for five-six weeks. Just a week before spring break, where students will travel widely, since travel restrictions have lessened, and be maskless, since most of the country no longer is following mask mandates.
Despite being able to do my job completely at home because the university “won’t allow” us to only offer virtual advising appointments. Because “our expectation of in-person availability three days a week continues and if a student prefers to not wear a mask in that meeting we have to honor that,” according to my supervisor. Even though other offices on campus are fully remote still. Even other advising units. For some reason, mine isn’t.
Friends, I am just full of rage.
I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone, where I’m the only one who cares that almost a million have lost their lives in the US alone (I know that’s not true, but fuck me if it doesn’t feel like that). Yet, when you look global, it is 5.6 million people. Dead.
I feel like I’m being gaslit, as I hear our director complain to a colleague that she is “so excited to finally have to stop wearing her damn mask” before our meeting starts, to then turn around and say, “I know the new mask mandate reduction scares some of you to death, but we have to listen to the university and you must do what they university demands.” Where I’m met with surprised stares when I say I don’t go out to eat and don’t leave the house unless I have to. Where my rage at the mandates leaving is met with distain and confusion.
The pandemic isn’t over. For FUCKS SAKE.
Why do I have to put my health on the line? Why must I risk getting COVID? I know I have a good chance of surviving it, thanks to my age, my health and my triple vax status. But that doesn’t mean I want to catch it. I don’t want to be asymptomatic and pass it to a student who isn’t wearing a mask or isn’t vaxxed, and thus it continues to spread. I don’t want to be the cause of someone else dying or starting a new strain. I don’t want to risk the effects of long COVID.
I am just…I am just so tired, friends. I can’t live without my paycheck. The remote jobs I have applied for have not panned out yet, so I’m stuck here. I feel so powerless with my day job, which takes up 48+ hours of my life every week. Especially because they have done this before. My university has rolled back restrictions after Delta and then Omicron caused them to return. I wouldn’t be surprised if a new, worse variant doesn’t cause a repeat in this tortuous cycle. The university has repeatedly made it clear that the financial health of the university is worth the price of it’s people, whether it be students, staff or faculty.
Fuck, my partner’s coworker DIED from COVID and the university didn’t even blink.
I am so tired. I am so full of rage. I feel so hopeless. I just want to break down and cry. At the state of the world. At the inadequacies of leadership, from my direct supervisor to the very president of our country, and everywhere in-between. At the injustices happening across the globe to so many people who aren’t white and male and straight and wealthy and able-bodied.
Fuck capitalism. Fuck the selfishness of the powerful, the greed of the rich and the ignorance of so many who don’t even have the empathy enough to wear a piece of cloth over their mouth (and nose, for fuck’s sake). Fuck those who have failed us and got us to this point. Fuck my university for forcing me to risk my health for a paycheck when it has all the means, tools and proof to protect me, yet chooses not to.
I am full of rage and I don’t know what to do.