After nearly 6 weeks of relative freedom, we were called back. School was gearing up to restarting on… Well we’re still not sure on what date. But sometime soon… maybe? What we do know was that we need to be in a position to be fit and well and able to teach back in the classroom. And a part of this is completing a mandatory two week quarantine in case we’d picked up the lurgy outside of China. As cases were steadily decreasing in China (because of the incredibly strict measures put in place) we were monitoring the news and seeing a steady increase elsewhere in the world.
Having spent 2 weeks in Siem Reap in Cambodia, moving on to Penang, Malaysia, for a further 2 weeks, and ending up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for our final stint, we were certainly ready to get back to what we now class as home.
Something that concerned us, was seeing the rise of cases of the super virus in the country we were staying. When it jumped from 22 cases of Covid-19 to 88 within the space of 2 days, we decided to cut our loses, forego the remainder of the week in the super nice Airbnb we were staying in, and pull the flight back forward from Saturday to Tuesday. The last thing we want is to not be allowed back in the country and be sent back into a further state of limbo.
And here I am, sitting at 36000 feet above the South China Sea in an Airbus A320, cloud gazing, and contemplating our time away from Shenzhen, and what it will be like when we get back. WeChat has been a busy little program, pinging updates from those back in China, still displaying images of near deserted streets, and anecdotes of other lives.
On their return, two teachers from our school were taken into government quarantine because a passenger on the ferry back to Shenzhen from Hong Kong tested positive for Coronavirus. Needless to say, we have put in every measure to protect ourselves on the way back. Our hands are raw from alcohol gel! Having said that, we do need to accept that there are somethings that are way beyond our control. Fingers are metaphorically very tightly crossed that we can get back to our community and apartment with no mishaps.
The process of planning the return journey has been somewhat arduous, countless QR codes have been scanned, health declarations have been repeatedly made to different agencies, and we’ve even submitted mobile phone records to the police to prove our whereabout this last month and a half. All that remains is to land, get off the plane, go through Hong Kong Customs, travel to Shenzhen Bay Border just as we did from the opposite side on the 5th February, get across the border, pick up the car that is booked to take us home, pick up the provisions and groceries that school have organised for use, get past the guards of our gated community (using pre-arranged QR codes) wander across the grounds, maybe a little less deserted, maybe not, take the lift back up to floor 15 and enter our apartment. Where we will remain, unable to leave for the next two weeks. Oh, what fun we’ll have!
Whilst away, I have become a master of paperless teaching and embracing technology to deliver lessons. Zoom trumped the poolside and is my new classroom. An online platform to host virtual meetings, or in my case, virtual lessons. With relatively little knowledge and experience of this program I’ve been able to keep in touch with the students I teach. One of the really great things about Zoom is the ability to mute all the students when they get a little bit too noisy- if only there was a way to do that in a real classroom…
Its been a strange few weeks, not quite a tangible working environment, though definitely not a holiday. Finding a different routine between packing the cases ready to move on to a different place. Within each area we stayed, we were never static for long. The ever-changing nature of the epidemic meant that we have been given ever distant school reopening dates, and we’d adjust our travel plans each time. Until now, and there is no definite date for re-opening but surely it will be sometime soon…
During our time away from home we have learnt that you can get by on very little (in terms of luggage.) The cases that were packed in a rush as we made the decision to leave have served us well. What we didn’t take, we didn’t need. Mentally we are preparing to downsize when we get back and get rid of a load of stuff that we just don’t need. Mentally that is, whether or not it will happen – we’ll see!
With 20 minutes before landing, its time to sign off. No doubt we’ll have time aplenty to keep you up-to-date with what life in quarantine in like (provided we actually get back home.)