We’re approaching the end of term here at Maynooth University; the forthcoming week is the last week of teaching, after which we have the luxury of a full week without lectures or tutorials before Christmas itself. Apart from eating and drinking I think I’ll spend most of the holiday sleeping. The first official duty I will have in the new year is on Saturday 8th January when one of my online examinations is due to take place. After that it will be all marking papers and after that it will be preparing teaching for Semester 2…

At this start of this academic year I was quite confident that Semester 2 would find us more-or-less back to normal but that now seems very unlikely. I think that we’re going to be starting Semester 2 at the end of January 2022 exactly the same way that we started Semester 2 in January 2021, i.e. with everything fully online.

As of today, the recent rapid growth in Covid-19 infections seems to have slowed (and cases have been decreasing for a few days) but a Christmas surge seems inevitable and with many people having low protection against the omicron variant and very high case numbers even before the festive period, the period from January to March may be very difficult indeed. I stand to be proved wrong, though, and the trajectory of the pandemic is highly uncertain. We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out. Fingers crossed.

I have explained before on this blog that I am going to be working from home next week, delivering my last lectures from my study and via recordings. I have better facilities for doing online lectures at home, because the University has failed to invest in decent recording equipment in its lecture theatres.

In any case I only have one full lecture to give in my first-year module (due tomorrow); the other two will be revision classes. I have finished the lectures for my second-year module so was just planning to do a revision class in the Tuesday slot. I did have some other (virtual) meetings in my calendar for next week but most of these have all been cancelled for one reason or another.

The one remaining task is to get all the online exams ready to go in January. We haven’t got the special Moodle spaces set up yet, but I imagine that will happen sometime next week.

By the way, when I responded to the close contact alert I received on Friday I was told I’d be sent an antigen test kit from the HSE. I haven’t got it yet but I suppose it may arrive next week. I still don’t have any symptoms though, and am effectively self-isolating anyway, so I’m not concerned. I just hope I get my booster on Wednesday without having to queue for too long…