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Hauppauge Public Library Staff: Some Perspectives from Home

Written by Denise M. Anchico

Contributors: Jenna Bittman, Chris Bisoinette, Nicolette V., Marc T., Christina G., Ivona C., and Olivia F.

The Hauppauge Public Library is proud to have a wonderfully diverse staff. Many staff members, from the instruction & research specialists to the operation specialists, juggle several professional jobs, high school, college, working in retirement, parenthood and just about any other lifestyle scenario that comes to mind. Although the Hauppauge Public Library building remains closed, the staff is busy working from home trying to provide resources, quality programs, and services that our community has come to rely on. While the staff remain sheltered at home – and working – The Buzz decided to check in with four individual staff members to find out how they are balancing work and life, while remaining on NY State Pause.

Librarian and Working Mom – Jenna B. is a part-time Information and Research Specialist with a master’s degree in Library Science. In addition to working both her full-time and part-time jobs from home, she is also tasked with the responsibility, like so many other parents, of teaching her children from home. Most parents choose not to homeschool their children but now everyone is doing so via distance learning. Jenna asks the question on every parent’s mind, “How can we take on the role as teacher virtually overnight?” Fortunately, Jenna has “good news” and goes on to state that, “School districts have set up online learning platforms. The teachers are still providing educational materials to students. The educators are sending websites, apps, and emails to help support the content given. Educators still have daily contact with their students just in a new way. The new buzzwords in many households are Zoom, Google Meets, and Flipgrid, to name a few. These platforms connect the students with their teachers for much needed time with familiar faces that the students are missing so much!” After reaching out to other parents, Jenna has the following advice, culled from her parenting network: Set a schedule, especially if you have multiple children, a limited number of devices for online learning, and children who have vastly different needs. Stick to the schedule but also be flexible as each day brings new challenges. It is far too easy to become mentally and physically exhausted and to feel like a failure. Do not get caught in this trap. Jenna stresses that “teachers want the parents, guardians and students to know that they are here for you to answer your questions and provide instruction and guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help! So many teachers are missing their students just as much as the students are missing their teachers. They will remain connected even if it has to be through technology.” Lastly, Jenna advises, “Don’t forget to reach out to your local public library for additional resources.”

Helpful Resources for Distance Learning:

Librarian and Newly Stay-at-Home Dad – Chris B. is a part-time Information and Research Specialist with a master’s degree in Library Science. In addition to now working from home as a full-time librarian, and his part-time position at the Hauppauge Public Library, Chris finds himself being the primary caregiver for his 9-month-old son as his wife leaves the house each day as an essential worker. His day starts off at 8:00am, and “maybe earlier with a diaper change and a bottle feeding.” Chris gives a blow-by-blow of his day (somewhat amusing to all the mothers reading this, but we remain sympathetic to Chris’ plight): Playtime from 8:30-10:30am with a couple of diaper changes. 10:45am-12:30pm, it’s naptime. During naptime I do dishes, laundry, dusting, and other possible house chores. 12:30pm it’s feeding time and another diaper change. 1:00-3:30pm, it’s more playtime with more diaper changes. 3:45pm comes around, it’s another nap until about 5:30pm. During this time, it’s usually whatever house chores I didn’t get to in the morning. 5:00pm my spouse returns home and dinner is made. Another bottle is given at 5:45pm, then feeding time and another bottle or water. More playtime ensues with more diaper changes and then bedtime at 9:00pm. Next day, repeat.” Chris adds that, “My wife is thoroughly amused by this reversal of roles during this pandemic. I have to admit it has been an interesting time going from full-time working librarian to full-time house husband…it is extremely stressful. For you stay-at-home mothers, and even working mothers, I must say I have a newfound respect for the tall jobs you have to do at home. For everyone out on the front lines, stay safe.”  

Helpful Resources for Stay-at-Home Dads:

Part-time Operation Specialist and College Student – Nicolette V. is a current college freshman attending Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. She was advised to return home to Long Island for the rest of the spring semester with the outbreak of COVID-19. Nicolette claims that, “The shift to online remote learning with little reaction time to prepare was a hard shift to make for all parties involved: the students, the professors, and universities.” With regards to students, Nicolette states that, “Stressful does not cover the difficult workload this pandemic has imposed on college students such as myself. It is evident that every student is in the same boat, maneuvering the same waves and struggling to stay afloat.” Nicolette believes that, “Universities are taking initiatives to ease these issues, as they understand the struggles this pandemic has imposed on students.” For example, lowering GPA requirements to remain eligible for services, scholarships, and specialized programs such as honors. Also providing students with the Pass/Fail option for courses and offering virtual graduation ceremonies. “Universities have had to make a variety of adjustments to salvage the spring semester…During this difficult time, I must say that I consider myself fortunate to attend such an understanding and accommodating university. While I do feel the impacts of the pandemic on my learning, I am grateful to my university, its staff, and my classmates who have made this adjustment even just a little easier. Overall, it is of the utmost importance that everyone continues to practice precautionary habits like hand washing and social distancing to keep themselves and others safe. In a time in which many people are quarantined in homes with family members, we should make the most of this opportunity to spend such time with our loved ones. Many college students would otherwise be away at school, so this time with family should be cherished until routine can be resumed.” Nicolette is especially sympathetic to her university’s graduating class of 2020. “After working hard to earn their degree, graduating university students will not have the celebration in which they deserve.”

Helpful Resources for College and University Students at Home during the Pandemic:

Students should also check their individual college or university websites for information on how to cope while away from school. 

Part-time Operation Specialists and High School Students – Marc T. “Currently, students of Hauppauge High School are receiving daily assignments in place of school work, based on the fact that the school had closed almost a month ago one would assume that the work would be simplistic, but so far, that’s far from the truth. We receive notifications through Google Classroom as well, most of them surrounding topics such as continuing to wash our hands, protect ourselves from exposure, beware of others, etc. This friendly reminder is definitely helpful for students during these trying times. As of right now, prom and graduation ceremonies are on hold until further notice, unsurprisingly.” Christina G. “Personally for me, I think it’s important to worry about everyone’s safety. Going to school would be a threat to everyone’s health. Yes, school events will probably get canceled and our senior year is different than others, but the safety of everyone is most important.” Ivona C. “I have to spend my last year stuck in my house. I worked so hard in high school and I just wanted to enjoy my last year with some peace and tranquility and clearly that was not the case…We probably won’t be able to walk at graduation. I just want to celebrate my achievements.” Olivia F. “At first, I didn’t think this was a big deal you know, but then the quarantine ruined everything for my family and I. We were supposed to move and start a new life and now that was canceled, which we planned for months by the way. And now everything happened so fast where I’m doing online schooling and my mom and I don’t know our future.” And finally, wise beyond his years, Marc T. also writes, “The 2020 graduating class will be the newest set of voters, and there are many issues that the world has thrust onto us lately such as super-volcanoes becoming active and the increasingly concerning state of the stock market. It’s hard to see the quarantine coming to an end sooner than the middle of summer, by that time, most seniors will have turned 18 and will have the responsibility of voting for officials that will determine the path this country will walk on. Due to the virus, roughly 3.3 million people have lost their jobs in America, pollution has been rapidly declining from quarantines, scientists expect between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans to die from the virus, and the canals in Venice are visibly cleaner from the lack of tourists. The population is lowering, the environment is healing, and more and more people are losing jobs. These are real issues that we will eventually have to cast our votes to try and fix. We will take part in rebuilding the country, and some of us won’t even have the chance to experience high school normally. The ugly truth is that we have no choice but to become adults quicker, and that’s not fair. But this quarantine has also given us the opportunity to prepare. We will be stuck in our homes until further notice, and until then, we have all that time to practice the skills we need that we were too busy to learn. Skills like changing a tire, cooking a meal, sewing a button back onto a shirt, or doing taxes, or budgeting. Although these aren’t ideal circumstances, we have the potential to actually be better off than any graduating classes for a while.”

Helpful Resources for High School Students

New York Times article: What Students are Saying About Living through a Pandemic