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Line-Editing Life, Post-Quarantine

We are closing in on approximately two-months of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States, give or take a week or so depending on what part of the country you live in. Thinking about all of the quarantine-induced changes that have taken place in daily life, I find myself wondering what of those changes will bleed into post-quarantine living. It seems a likely possibility that some changes could stay in place.

I’m sure there are many employers, once reluctant to allow employees to work from home, who were forced to adjust their policies. After making such modifications, will they switch to a more flexible work environment post-quarantine? Will they see benefits, perhaps an increase in productivity with the added flexibility of a remote work schedule? Or will they simply desire a return to the old normal? What if an employer could allow a flexible and remote work option in order for an employee to attend a class or two on campus? Or perhaps there will be employees who, after returning to their on-site work routine, may decide that a remote work schedule suited them better, and therefore appeal to their superiors for permanent flexibility options. Will employers listen?

Look at how colleges and universities were quickly able to modify a full line of on-campus instruction to a virtual learning environment. Understandably, those learning institutions already had some level of online learning in place and were able to borrow from those already tried and true techniques. Will administrators see a benefit of incorporating more online instruction? Will they, perhaps, work towards offering hybrid-type classes that would allow some form of virtual extension to on-campus classes? Or, if students who need to work full-time find a university more appealing if it offers more online options, will university’s attempt to meet that need?

Speaking from the perspective of a former full-time employee who wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree, programs of study were extremely limited in an online capacity. The degree program I wanted, English & Creative Writing on the Publishing Track, was not an option. At all. Fortunately, I ended up in a situation where I was able to quit working for a little while to pursue my degree full-time, so I am about to graduate with my long awaited and worked for bachelor’s degree. But before I knew that my life was going to change, I ended up defaulting to a generalized Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree because it was doable in a part-time capacity and it was completely online. When I saw that the University offered a Publishing Track – not online – I wanted to sign up for that more than anything. I even reached out to the director in charge of that program, pleading for the possibility to incorporate that Publishing Track into my current online degree track. He informed me that it wasn’t an option at that time.

Things are different now. Knowing that the capabilities are there for more remote employment and virtual learning, knowing that such modifications are possible, will these options be extended post-quarantine? Will policies be adjusted? Don’t get me wrong. I completely recognize and acknowledge the benefits of in-class instruction and on-site employment. But I also know, from experience, the desire to earn a degree does not always mesh with the ability to physically attend classes. I know that if I were still working full-time while earning my online degree part-time, I would have another two or three years before I’d be finished. In the wake of the extensive quarantine-induced adjustments, I know that I would have re-appealed to participate in the Publishing Track at The University of Iowa. Would they have granted my wish?

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