Well we finally have the blog working again. Something about the new WordPress system made it impossible for us to save posts, but now Gav has sorted it out we think. Thanks Gav!
That picture up there was us on the first day of school this year. Our school was given permission to physically open for High School students and then we had a later date when we anticipated that we could have the rest of the kids on campus. In preparation all the classrooms were reorganised to allow for social distancing, lots of mobile hand-washing stations were installed and about 50 billion posters were put up on how to wear your mask correctly. Schedules were organised so that students stayed with the same group of kids all day and for the most part only come into contact with 1 adult. This was easily done in the Elementary school but took a lot of finagling in the Middle school and meant that some teachers were literally stuck in a classroom all day with kids (including lunch) while other teachers zoomed in to teach different subjects remotely. High school was more “pod based” with groups of kids moving around together. Some teachers were teaching kids physically in the classroom AND kids at home at the same time via Zoom.
Anyway, in the end it was all for nought as exactly 5 days into the school year the Myanmar government shut all schools indefinitely due to a Covid outbreak that was now having local transmission, something that we had not had since April. Back to distance learning for everyone, which actually uncomplicated a lot of things. Now we are only juggling two different set of kids, students joining classes synchronously and students taking our newly developed self-paced curriculum-what I spent the summer working on. It is depressing to look forward and not see an end to this any time soon though. At least the in the spring when we went virtual we knew there was an end date. It is possible that this could go on all year, and of course everything is 10 times harder to do virtually than when you have kids in the classroom. Oh well I guess we’ll get through this somehow!
A minor miracle occurred early in August when our Head of School was able to arrange for nearly all of our faculty to get back into the country. The airport is still closed and in late July most Visas were cancelled for foreigners that were not physically in Myanmar. Our school was able to work with the Embassy and a very helpful NGO to get people back on a goods transport flight from Kuala Lumpur. There were many hoops for people to jump through, including specifically-timed Covid tests and baggage restrictions but everyone made it! Once they were back here in Yangon they all had to do 1 week quarantine in a hotel (they were all together in the same hotel and by all reports it was quite jolly with daily challenges that included things like “how long can you wedge yourself in the doorway of the bathroom with your feet off the floor”) and then another week and home. Gav and I went to see a friend (from her balcony) to have some beers “with” her and several other people came out on their balconies to join us.
Everyone who was quarantined had a non-quarantined “buddy” for moral support and supplies. We left some things for our friend and stocked up her fridge at home for her return. When she returned our suitcase, it came with a little surprise inside.
We had a brief shining moment when everyone was back and all our favourite places were open so we could take new people around a bit. We managed to get out and explore a new area of town to us that has some seafood BBQ places where you just go point at what you want in the fridge and they cook it for you. These places also have excellent, very cold Myanmar beer on draft and everything is ridiculously cheap.
Now, due to the rapid local transmission of the virus, we are on lockdown again. All the restaurants and bars have closed again and we are back to not wanting to take taxis. Our E-Bikes have been a major bonus in this lockdown period even though it is also the rainy season. After one bike ride where we both wore our rain jackets but then showed up at our destination looking like we had wet ourselves we remembered that we had ponchos squirreled away somewhere. We originally bought them for a trip to Borneo but we can’t remember actually using them. Anway we dug them out of our “camping” supplies (um we never go camping unless you count a permanent tented camp site, don’t know why we call it that) and they work great! No more showing up for work with Pee Pants.
I did have a spectacular E-Bike crash that was totally my fault. Coming home from doing the grocery shopping one Sunday morning something inside a bag that was balanced by by feet shifted and the bag fell off the bike. Should no have been a big deal, but I immediately slammed on the breaks, skidded and then fell over the with the bike on top of me. Gav was behind me and watched this all with horror, as did a Myanmar man who was just hanging out on the side of the road but then took on the duty of chasing all my produce that was rolling around on the street. Gav heaved the bike off me and we quickly figured out that nothing was broken so we gingerly went back home. I managed to get quite the epic road rash on my left arm and leg and spent the next week scaring everyone I came in contact with.
So we are now trying to gear ourselved up mentally for the possibility that we may not be able to leave Yangon for quite some time. We had already come to the conclusion that we would not be able to leave Myanmar, but we had held out hope that we could do some travel around here. Whelp, two nights ago I got an email that the hotel we had booked at the beach for our October break was cancelling and closing due to Covid, so that’s approximately 453254327 holidays we have had cancelled since March. It’s beginning to look as though our yearly travel photo book that Gav makes for us is going to be quite thin for 2020. Quite thin meaning it will consist of one image: