Uncertain times


How we'll teach, coach and support our students this coming academic year is not yet clear. Will we venture en masse to leave our home offices and head for the ‘real workfloor’? Does this mean we'll be going to work again in our own familiar way, cycling, by car or taking the train? Or will we go only into work at TU/e on certain days, in small groups, because the 1m50 era is not yet over?

Some people expect that one day humanity will conquer the virus and until that moment they want to stay at home. But virologists are giving out the message that the measures taken are designed to prevent further fatalities and the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed. The virus will not be stamped out but will stick around, flaring up in places where people are not vaccinated. Since the unvaccinated will always be among us, not only in the Netherlands but also abroad, living with the virus is probably something we are going to have to learn to do.

 Whether this means getting used to an annual booster shot against COVID-19 is, as I understand it, not yet clear but it is one scenario. We should also prepare for the return of “ordinary flu ” this fall, say experts. Speaking for myself, I was very happy this past fall not to have respiratory problems for once, but a virus-free life is sadly not on the cards for us. The pandemic has perhaps left us a little fearful of ill health in general.

How exactly we will do our work after the summer vacation, we can't yet say. How will we hold meetings when some of our colleagues are working from home and others are present on the campus? Is this even feasible? Do we have rooms available with the facilities this requires? Questions like these are often being voiced.

The approaching summer vacation, for which we are all gasping, is another topic raising countless questions among us. After all, isn't it wonderful to let your brain 'decompress' in some foreign place. Will we have to count on long lines at borders? What should you do if your QR code on the Corona app can't be read? Will we be allowed to cross borders, waving our yellow vaccination booklets in the air? Or must we still expect to take a PCR test? And just for good measure add a packet of antigen tests to our holiday packing?

And then there's the still unresolved cabinet formation. Progressing at a snail's pace. ‘Are we going right-wing or left-wing?’ It could be mistaken for a chat about soccer!

Something we do know, by contrast, is that the Dutch men's soccer team is not going to become European champion. Many of us will not want to be reminded of this, but it is a certainty. So now let's pin our hopes on the Olympic Games in Tokyo! Surely, that'll be a chance to bring home some medals. And, of course, we'll keep on following “our Max”. Hopefully he'll give us cause for another Dutch celebration before the year is out.

Another fact I know is just how much I'm looking forward to the summer vacation. And I know that next academic year, like every year, I will be teaching, supporting and coaching my students as best I can. I'm happy to wait and see how I can get in touch with them: via email, chat, MS Teams or face-to face. After the vacation I'll be available again on all these channels.

I wish you all a very good, relaxed summer vacation!

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