When Roadmaps are Ridiculous …

NSW has hit its next milestone on the “Roadmap to Freedom” – 80% double-vaccinated.

Unfortunately the published freedoms associated with 80% have changed a few times and so we now have a certain amount of ridiculousness baked in. So some people who had most definitely heard that at 80% we could travel to Greater Sydney but didn’t hear the subsequent update of “actually, not until November 1” may have been popping up to Shellharbour to the shops.

And on the same day that I’m allowed to travel the 90-odd kilometres to Wollongong to see my kids, other folk will be landing in the International Arrivals Hall to see theirs. Which is fine, but hardly the hallmark of a carefully staged return to normality.

We are finding other anomalies as we attempt to un-secure the campuses that were in secure mode. For example, we know we are educational facilities, which means we have to follow the 80% roadmap and not admit unvaccinated people. TAFE, with whom we share sites, are evidently NOT educational facilities because their staff and students don’t need to be vaccinated unless they’re visiting a facility that requires it. Like a preschool, because it’s an educational facility.

Also, because we are an educational facility we are under the pre-existing mask rules ie wear them unless you are in your office by yourself. Because even though we have whole wings of offices, we aren’t in office buildings.

Still with me?

In non-COVID times my son lives in Wollongong half the week and home with us in Nowra the other half, because he has Uni in Wollongong but his main part-time job in Nowra and frankly, no one would want their young person having no option but to commute that distance at night, when tired and/or on freshly minted P plates. He is not allowed to cross between regional and metro except for work or compassionate reasons. He has to cross into regional NSW to take his job back up, because the government support is disappearing because it’s not needed. It’s not needed because you’re meant to go to work now. He worked both days this weekend. We still don’t know whether he was or wasn’t allowed to stay here in between, given his two addresses and the anxiety his mother would have felt about him going back and forth for no reason other than we didn’t know whether or not he was technically meant to sleep in the room he’s slept in between the ages of 6 and 100-odd days ago.

He was allowed to come down here to go to work on Saturday but our daughter wasn’t allowed to be here on Thursday night for her (online) graduation ceremony. They have the same address as each other up there, and the same address as each other down here.

It’s going to be a long few weeks until December 1, when we will once again throw open every door to every person because vaccination status will no longer count.

As for how the first day back on campus went, let’s just say: migraine by dinner time, and I’m working from home today. Will try again Friday.

Anyway, here is a story on the aforementioned graduate, along with some bonus pictures from her shoot with UOW photrapher, Paul Jones. Hopefully in November we can get some with her – and ones where she doesn’t have to be searching for her on brand “Why” and can smile naturally!

HSC Time … or is it?

All my Facebook memories at this time of year seem to have been me giving last minute advice and messages of good luck to my former tutoring students (including my own offspring … yes, when they were in Year 12 they dutifully turned up each week to the tutoring centre I’d worked in pretty much their whole lives, much to the amusement of their peers in our small group sessions).

This year, of course, the start of the HSC has been delayed. Consequentially, so has HSC Marking. We now won’t start marking until close to the time we usually finish, and it will continue into December. As a result, and because of the compressed timeline to get the results processed and through UAC in time for University offers, NESA is doing an unprecedented (there’s that word again!) second call for applicants. So if you have recent HSC teaching experience, jump on board, jump online and join us for an educational experience that is quite literally like no other. In my experience, you won’t find a better bunch of people with whom to work.

More details here

In keeping with my HSC-styled musings, this morning The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”–all about letting your daughter go and waving her goodbye as she begins adulthood–started playing in my Spotify list. This also seemed kind of prescient since Child the Elder is graduating this evening. It’s a postponed and online event and for a few brief hours last weekend we thought we were going to be allowed to sit on a couch in the same location to view it, before state pollies “clarified” that no, metro and regional areas wouldn’t be allowed to cross the streams for day trips just yet, after all.

So instead we’ll be sitting on our separate couches 92 kilometres apart. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we can get together and have a properly celebratory meal and take some frame-able photos for what is actually a pretty significant moment in her life.

#UOWgrad2021

Congratulations, Jamie. We love you, we miss you, and we’re very proud.

If you need help with getting organised for the HSC, you can contact me on https://www.kimberleymcmahoncoleman.com or send me an email via kmcmahon_coleman@hotmail.com

A different sort of celebration …

Our graduation celebrations were cancelled this year, but the regional campuses decided to still offer an opportunity to have graduation photos taken. UOW-Shoalhaven’s had to be postponed because of the announcement of local COVID sites, but Batemans Bay, Bega, and Southern Highlands had their very busy (but very fun!) photo shoots last week.

I headed up to Moss Vale on Monday to help out and to be a warm prop in the photos with certificates. And since graduating during a global pandemic is a once in a century experience, we took a leaf out of the 2020-COVID-safe-Santa-photos book and decided to offer graduates some photos that commemorate this very strange historical moment. In addition to traditional and family portraits, we swapped the traditional handshake photo for an elbow bump, and then took things a step further with UOW-branded commemorative masks, using tongs to keep 1.5 metres apart while handing over the certificate.

It was a lot of work to safely (ie while masked) assist with gowning of each graduate, keep the groups suitably separated, and to be able to offer personalised nibbles plates for each family group. But the smiles from the students suggest that it was all very much worth it.

We also took the opportunity to take some staff photos, and the leafy campus and grand architecture of the building make for a rather lovely backdrop. I’m really happy with how these shots turned out. Our photographer for the day, Carl, is a proud UOW-Southern Highlands alumnus and now a teacher, who gave up a day during his school holidays to come and capture these snaps for us.

More proud UOW alumni. With our admin assistant, Erin and campus manager, Stephen, in front of the Murcutt-designed building.

‘Tis the Season

As we near the end of the year, people often cheerfully ask me if things are winding down. In truth, I am not sure I’ve ever been more wound up!

Last week we had Graduation celebrations for our students in the Southern Highlands, Batemans Bay and Bega. And because the week wasn’t busy enough, Shoalhaven hosted a two-day event for Indigenous students. And, just to add to the degree of difficulty, the massive Currowan fire between the Shoalhaven and Batemans Bay closed pretty much every road into the area, and put celebrations in jeopardy.

Image result for currowan fire image
Not the best driving conditions for graduands or staff …

The week started off in Moss Vale, which was pretty smokey, as you can see in the pictures.

with Ros

The guest speaker who gave the Occasional Address was none other than my friend and long-time collaborator, Dr Roslyn Weaver. Ros’ parents still live in Moss Vale and we all have a lovely catch-up when she makes her annual pilgrimage home each December. She’s currently using her research and writing skills while working in Vancouver. A UOW alumn and former tutor at the campus, she was a great choice to congratulate the students and inspire them that the skills and confidence acquired during their studies are very transferable. There is one graduate, however, we don’t want to go anywhere any time soon! Erin Acton is our Admin Assistant at UOW-Southern Highlands, who graduated with her BA.

with Sammi and Erin
With Regional Outreach Officer Sammi, and Erin. We did not consciously co-ordinate; we are just that sympatico. #teamregional

I then spent two days with Indigenous students from the Shoalhaven. They undertook art and dance classes on campus, and then we all went on a Bush Tucker walk at Booderee the next day. I learned so much on that one hour walk!

Graduations at Bega and Batemans Bay also went off without a hitch. We even made front page news in Bega!

For at least a week beforehand, there were many urgent communiques about whether or not the celebrations in Batemans Bay might not be able to proceed. We created Plans B & C, which we thankfully didn’t need. In true enterprising regional style, however, I later discovered that the eight graduands who live north of the Princes Highway closure had developed their own Plan B, costing out a charter boat!

skipper
What could go wrong?

 

 

Since then, I have pretty much been in recovery mode, frantically trying to finish off a whole bunch of work stuff before I start my annual leave this afternoon. We have had HSC results and ATARs released; we are waiting on information about some very cool incentives to study at regional campuses–watch this space if you are thinking about studying at UOW-Shoalhaven, UOW-Southern Highlands, UOW-Bega or UOW-Batemans Bay from next year–there are some new scholarships in the pipeline. We had two finalists in the University’s Pod Decorating competition, an Info night at Shoalhaven Campus, and there are more info sessions and drop-in days to come.

bushfire sun
Bushfire sunset over UOW-Shoalhaven Info night.

Away from work, things are also busy. In addition to the usual festive activities and ever-increasing to-do lists that abound at this time of year, our eldest is turning 21 on December 21. We are in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave and half the country is on fire, so we’ve been hastily shifting her vision of a cute outdoor grazing platter and glasses of Pimms to something which still has those elements but hopefully without our guests contracting heatstroke and salmonella. (This may also feature lots of Zooper Doopers).

Jamie
CanĀ  confirm she will be looking way more glamorous than me on Saturday … Zooper Doopers notwithstanding.

So from our regional team and my regional family, our very best wishes to you and yours for the holiday season. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and most of all:

festive-black-banner-merry-christmas-greetings-vector-16840710