A Story from a History Professor at the University of Manitoba

The impact of COVID on my work has been very disruptive and has required extensive accommodations. Our department responded swiftly to the situation, rapidly moving all teaching to online platforms. While we did succeed in keeping our courses going, the whole process was very stressful, as the move required immediate learning of virtual platforms, as well as critical decisions regarding what material could be uploaded and how it could be added in the most meaningful manner. While managing that aspect, we had to deal with students’ high levels of anxiety and stress about not only their studies, but also the unfolding disruption of their lives.

Additionally, my position as chair of my department’s Honours Program has required constant, on-demand contact with students to help them navigate the new environment, especially for those who are graduating. These are specific situations that involve individual attention and consideration.

All of this is happening while receiving an immense amount of e-mails from our university, faculty, department, and union about unfolding rules and procedures. If anything, teaching and service demands have not diminished, but rather have increased.

Regarding research, as a specialist in Latin American history my research agenda has also been significantly impacted. Besides suspension of conferences, I have been forced to suspend research stays that are critical for my work, including the inability to access material through interlibrary loan. At the same time, I am working as best as I can on writing and revising a book manuscript, articles, and chapters based on the material that I already have in order to meet deadlines.

All of my research has taken a second seat, as dealing with students is the absolute priority. At a more personal level, my work from home has also involved negotiations of time and space with the rest of my family in order to conduct necessary academic work. Emotionally, having elderly relatives in Argentina, my native country and to where it is now impossible to travel in the case of an emergency, has added another layer of intense stress.