We’ve all watched universities around the U.S. go through the five stages of COVID prep:
Denial: Our return to campus is perfectly safe! Our students have all signed the Social Distancing Because We Care Pledge, and therefore there is absolutely no chance they will behave like other 19-year-olds. We’re better than that.
Anger: Send out a stern video in which the president and maybe the football coach share how disappointed they were to learn about last night’s 4-keg maskless party in the field house. You guys aren’t supposed to behave like teenagers, remember?
Bargaining: Or, you know, threats. Threaten faculty and staff with layoffs and pay cuts instead of bargaining (whew, good thing you crushed the union!). Look, sometimes we all have to sacrifice our safety and health for the greater good, ok? And by “the greater good” we mean “to keep the ten-figure endowment intact.”
Depression: Lay people off anyways.
Acceptance: Fine, we’ll go online.
So, as teachers write wills and colleges scramble to roll back their fall plans in the face of completely predictable COVID clusters, let’s escape for a minute by imagining how some notable teachers of history and fiction would be handling this, shall we?
Professor Bhaer (Little Women)
Extremely into your school’s new motto about community
Wants to teach in person because he doesn’t think you’re Zooming “from the heart.”
That one time when you accidentally screenshared your Netflix queue he got really judgy about the “sensation stories” in it
Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)
Volunteers to teach in person because she kind of hates herself
Walks that decision back after your classmate Adele’s dad starts showing up on her webcam.
Caught murmuring when she thought her mic was muted: “The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Ms. Frizzle (The Magic School Bus)
Wears the best masks. They match her dress and have like planets and DNA on them.
Always one to read the room, she's teaching in space this semester
You’re number 435 on the waitlist for her class
“As I always say, class, you’re out of this world.” <3 <3 <3
Syrio Forel (A Game of Thrones)
WHAT DO WE SAY TO THE GOD OF DEATH????
That’s kind of a weird ritual chant to start your statistics class with every Tuesday, but ok.
Socrates (real, but also in Plato)
Caused a bit of a commotion in that Zoom town hall with the dean. The man is a master of the art of the comment-phrased-as-question.
Made a will. It just says, “Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.”
Virgil (real, but also in The Divine Comedy)
Did someone call for a guide through hell???