Interview with Jennifer Schuttlefield Christus, 03/15/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Dr. Jennifer Christus on Tuesday, March 15 2022, for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

JSC: Jennifer Schuttlefield Christus J E N N I F E R Schuttlefield SCHUTTLEFIELD Christus CHRISTUS.

GL: Perfect. Now for the purposes of getting a good audio recording, tell us again who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

JSC: I am Dr. Jennifer Schuttlefield Christus. I am an associate professor in 00:01:00chemistry that teaches on all three campuses. I also am the director of the UW system, ideas Alliance. The ideas Alliance stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and advancement in STEM.

GL: Alright, so before we dive into your campus COVID story we'd like to get to know you a little bit better. You know, tell us a little bit about where you grew up.

JSC: I grew up in Southern Iowa in the rural middle of Iowa. The farm kid graduating high school senior class was 55 students.

GL: What was your parents' highest education?

JSC: Oh, I'm a first-generation student. So my parents graduated from high school and my mom did get a secretarial-type certificate, I guess. But that was it.


GL: What did your parents do?

JSC: My.. they were farmers

GL: Dairy or--

JSC: Mostly grain actually, so corn soybeans, a number of hogs at one point. But we were not dairy, we were in Iowa, the pork state.. this is the cattle state

GL: And who put the idea of going to college in your mind?

JSC: Oh, that's really interesting. It was always sort of an expectation for me. I think my parents thought that that was really the only way forward. And when I was growing up, there were a number of years that farming was just really hard, really, really hard. And we were really financially strapped and they just didn't want that for me. They wanted something better.

GL: And where did you earn your degree or degrees?

JSC: So I started at the University of Northern Iowa and then actually 00:03:00transferred so not only am I a first-generation student, but I was also a transfer student who then in between my sophomore and junior year transferred to the University of Iowa, where I proceeded to get a BS in chemistry and a BA in economics. And then I went on to graduate school at the University of Iowa also.

GL: And you earned what degree there?

JSC: I got my Ph.D. in chemistry there.

GL: And how did you come to work at UW Oshkosh?

JSC: After I got my Ph.D. in chemistry I did in science, it's common to do what's called a postdoctoral research position. And I graduated from the University of Iowa and then I left Iowa and moved to the University of Wyoming where I worked there for two years as a postdoctoral researcher. And, then it was during that time that in my second year there that I started applying for positions. And this may seem really silly, but in my first experience of living 00:04:00outside of Iowa, I had decided that I would go no further than two states. So two states away was as far as I really wanted to be. And I was in two states. Exactly. And in my time of living two states away, I had decided that if at all possible, I would really like to only be one state away from my family just so that it was an easier travel day. And I applied to schools within that radius. And so that's what happened.

GL: And when did you come here and what position?

JSC: I started in 2010. And I'll just say I saw the job application in our professional magazine. And I just knew that was my job. I knew it. I was like that is my job. It was basically the job description that was written for me about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to do research on and so I believed all along, but this was my position. And I started in 2010 then as an Associate Professor in chemistry

GL: Okay, so Tell us about your position at UW Oh, pre-COVID before March 2020?


JSC: Yeah, so pre COVID I generally teach general chemistry. So I'll teach you either introductory courses, or I'll teach upper-level analytical courses. So those are the ones that I'm assigned to based on my expertise. And, and, as COVID was starting I was teaching an undergraduate course. I also have a part-time job. So I'm an administrative halftime instructor. So half of my time is spent being the director of the Ideas Alliance. So my teaching load is reassigned to them. So I don't teach as much as maybe other just full-time instructors do. And so I was only teaching one undergraduate lab, at the introductory level. And then I also had the senior capstone seminar course. So 00:06:00that's, that's what I was doing pre- COVID,

GL: How many students are in your undergraduate?

JSC: So we have 24, typically in the undergraduate labs. So sometimes you get a few less if students are if it's not quite full, but typically, they're about 24.

GL: And your senior?

JSC: The senior class can vary anywhere from, you know, five or six, up to 20. We've had both and it really just depends on the number of majors going through at the time.

GL: And you were also working as I can't remember the title

JSC: the Ideas Alliance.

GL: Yeah. And what does that do?

JSC: Yeah, so the ideas Alliance, we do a lot of professional development for STEM instructors across the system. So our goal is to, to provide best practices, to award a curriculum reform grant. So if people want to implement things, we give them a little summer salary to do that. We also run a what STEM 00:07:00pipeline event. So we do an event called advancing young women in STEM to try to, you know, just expose students to different career paths. So we do a lot of just different kinds of events and professional development opportunities. And those run throughout the year.

GL: Is that a paid position? Is that part of you?

JSC: It is part yes. So. So the UW System funds that part of my salary. It is a halftime position. Yeah.

GL: Okay, perfect. Okay, so I am going to pause right now.

AR: This is Arif Dauti interviewing Dr. Jennifer Christus for part two. Now let's move on to the early days of COVID. Oh, what was the first time you remember hearing about COVID?

JSC: The first time I remember hearing about COVID. It was on the news. I was 00:08:00traveling in about I think mid-January or so for a trip. And people were really just starting to talk about this virus.

AR: When hearing about it, what was your initial reaction to the news?

JSC: Well, my initial reaction as a stem person was fairly concerned. There's, I guess, a two-fold response to that one. Scientifically, I was very interested, I was wanting to learn more, I wanted to know more about what was happening. As a scientist, you don't get to see many things evolve like this. As a mother, and a concerned citizen and a person. I was very concerned, obviously, for the health of anybody that was involved. And also it's just such an unknown situation. You know, that's scary.

AR: How would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?


JSC: Well, I think my feelings about the disease itself really parallel that same kind of fear. You know, as I said, science to me is very interesting. It's a very complex problem. I would also say that I am a trained aerosol chemist. So originally, as the data was beginning to unfold, it was really clear to aerosol chemists that this was an aerosol transmission. And that is oftentimes not a pathway that people really give a lot of credibility to for virus transmission. And so my area the, you know, the people that I've worked with my collaborators and the people that are, you know, experienced aerosol scientists, were really at the forefront of saying there's a new mechanism like we need to be really concerned about this and So for me scientifically, that was a really interesting 00:10:00science problem, right? My other fear, though, was that we didn't know anything about it. Like we didn't know, the, you know how contagious it was we didn't, we still don't know the long-term lasting impacts. It's so it's such an interesting problem because people are experiencing such different symptoms, and we don't really have a good explanation for that as to why that's occurring, and why some people end up with long COVID And why some people don't have symptoms in so from the science standpoint, it's really, again, just really interesting to see this all unfold, you know, in your lifetime. But at the same time, again, fearful, fearful, you know, I'm fearful for my family, I'm fearful. Like, they were talking obviously, about, over you know, being over 65 as a factor for having severe COVID. That's my family, you know, my parents, my in-laws, like, that's 00:11:00all very, very scary on top of being a mother with small children.

AR: Now, let's talk about the situation when the university closed the campus in March. What are your feelings? And like UWO and elsewhere started closing?

JSC: Yeah, that's also a really fascinating question. Um, I remember, I remember walking into my office on the first floor of Halsey, and everybody knew what was happening, everybody knew it was closing, and everybody, we all saw it coming. And, and so I think actually, in some ways, for me, there was a little bit of relief, there was a relief that I could isolate the people that I cared about. And, and, and so there was some, there was some nervousness about what needed to 00:12:00happen, what I knew was going to need to happen in terms of moving things online. But the other part of me was also really just kind of relieved that no one was being exposed, or that we could just sort of stay at home and figure out what was happening and, and, and some calmness. So

AR: Can you describe what happened within your own department?

JSC: Yeah, so in our department, we were not really set up for an online world, we had to bring that forward pretty quickly. And there were lots of emails, there were not a lot of online meetings, because I still think we weren't quite ready for that yet, which is totally different from where we are now. We do online meetings now all the time. And, and so I think that there was a pretty quick learning curve, we had to step it up pretty quickly. And to figure out, you know, what we were going to do, I was also teaching a lower-level lab class 00:13:00that involved a bunch of instructors. It has a lead instructor. And then but then, you know, we were trying to figure out what we want to do for a lab, we all needed to be in contact, we all needed to be on the same page. We also were really concerned about our students like, this was a really, you know, we were all of a sudden going something from something that we do in person all the time very routine, to something that was really unroutine (sic) really different, but really concerned about student success and trying to figure out, how do we help students? What's the best way forward? How can we still give them the experience they need and the content that they need? And we had people doing all different kinds of things from recording videos at home on their kitchen table, you know, to I did some in my garage. You know, we were trying to find ways around doing things that would still work, even if it was just using groceries or whatever 00:14:00else we could find at home. So our cleaning supplies or whatever.

AR: Do you remember by any chance, like what you were doing the exact moment that you found out that everything was shutting down?

JSC: So you mean like the world like and you know, like the states and all that stuff? Or like at the university

AR: Just to university, my bad.

JSC: Yeah, that's okay, though. So Well, I mean, it's a little different for me, because my husband is in the fitness industry. So their worlds shut down at about the same time ARDs did so it was a really interesting time for our family. And when I found out we were sitting in the office for the ideas Alliance and I was actually discussing with my program assistant, we were talking about, like, what do we do if this is the case because we have a lot of we do programming throughout the year. And, and we knew that this conversation was ramping, you 00:15:00could tell it was starting to, to come to become something where that could be a real possibility. And so we were discussing, like, what do we do in that case? And how do we move forward? And, you know, what does the rest of the year look like? And so we were just having those conversations. And then we both saw the email come in

AR: Some employees, some employees, at UWO were deemed essential, and they were instructed to come in and work in person. Were you among the group or

JSC: No, no, I wasn't among that group. No, actually, our research labs and everything shut down. So we shut down. Everything shut down. So our classroom shut down. And then our research labs were also shut down until almost the end of summer, basically. Yeah. Wow. Okay.

AR: Um, obviously, you worked for home. So can you describe your home office a little bit?

JSC: Sure. My home office is, is something it's, it's in the basement, I didn't have a home office, actually. So we, in my house, my husband had the office 00:16:00because he was working at home most of the time, I didn't typically work at home. And so I moved into the basement, and sat at a counter, like our kind of bar counter area, and took all that over and we have a pool table back behind me where I had all of my students seminar papers, and they were all kind of laid out all over. So

AR: All right, um, now let's talk a little bit about teaching at this time. How did the process go from going obviously in-person to online teaching?

JSC: Yeah, so the process from in-person to online teaching was really interesting because I had two different really different courses. So I had a course that was, as I said, focused on introductory level students, so 100 level 00:17:00students, I also had a 400 level student course, with completely different requirements. So the lower level course was 100 levels, like I said, we were doing in-person labs that transitioned to online labs, where we basically either took videos of the experiment to try to explain it or we provided a data set, and then the students did the analysis of the data set. So we were trying to do the best we could, in that capacity. In the other course, those students were thrown into real life, on the other side of it, because they were expected to no longer give in-person seminars. So in our 400 level course, what happens is, in the first semester, students write a 20 to 25-page research paper, on either their research project or on, on, and on a research idea. And then in the second 00:18:00semester, they present that as a 40 to 45-minute seminar to the department and to the other students in the class or, and it's actually open Anyone, anyone can come to watch. So what we did was, I worked and luckily, we only had, I think, seven or eight students that semester that were presenting. I worked with all of them individually, one on one, to create online recorded PowerPoint videos that then we just ended up posting. I think we only did one where somebody presented live. But we were also sort of worried about, could our system handle it like could Collaborate Ultra handle it? What is the easiest way to do it? What? For the students and they really were allowed to pick, we only had one student say they wanted to do it live, they jumped right in and did it. But everybody else, I think recorded theirs. And we had to change our evaluation system. You know, 00:19:00we were also obviously wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt for making this big jump unexpectedly. And so there was a lot of one-on-one interaction with students during that time, just to try to make sure that we got to the end of the semester.

AR: So you said you taught in the lab, right?

JSC: Yes.

AR: Um, did you have students set up like experiments at home? Or did you just do the videos and analyze it?

JSC: We did. So we did not have them do lab experiments at home. Some of that came actually in the fall because when we first moved online like we were just responding. We really didn't know what else to do other than sort of make do with what we had and try to kind of like either do videos or do assignments and that kind of realm when we continue to do some labs online in the fall. That was different from when we then had some simulations. So some companies produce lab 00:20:00simulations. And so some of the classes adopted simulations, some adopted a hybrid approach, we did module eight labs. So we didn't have as many lab experiences. So we had, you know, like, some people came one week, the other part of the lab came the next week. And we kind of modulate people through the semester to limit the number of people that are in the lab, and allow for social distancing. But it was everybody's sort of got to pick their own approach as to what they felt comfortable in terms of the content, and also what's commercially available for some classes. There are really great commercially available systems and simulations for upper level some of the upper levels, there's not really anything out there. So.

AR: Alright, um, do you? What kind of feedback were you getting from students? Especially the ones that were doing it online? Do you? Were they like, were they happy with it? Were they not happy with it?


JSC: I don't know that. I don't know if I can comment on their happiness. Um, I think in some ways, everybody was just trying to survive in the STEM areas, you know, everybody was just trying to figure out the best way forward. And, and I think that's where a lot of our time, you know, just came in with trying to have as many ones on one conversation, whether that was via email via Discussion Boards via, you know, online, sort of synchronous meetings, whatever we could do. We were trying to do that, as a department. I know, that's what my colleagues like, everybody was just trying to do what we could do, and get to May, like, get to the end of the semester and that it's okay. And, and, you know, and with that, like we obviously knew that was, you know, the stress that everybody was under what students were doing what they were dealing with.

AR: Obviously, COVID has been challenging for everyone, and especially as a teacher, 00:22:00what are some other challenges you faced as an instructor?

JSC: As an instructor, well, the other half of my job is based off of hosting in person events. So that also changed. I had to change a significant thing, like, we started doing events online, we had to restructure the way we funded people to do certain types of work. We had to figure out, you know, we did, there were some benefits, you know, in that sense, like, we are a system wide program that's housed at UW Oshkosh. And it allowed us to connect to the people across the system way easier. We could, we didn't have to travel, we were right there. There were other pieces of that, that were really, really nice, in some sense. There are other things though, like that you have to do as an instructor, like 00:23:00advising or service work, you know, and doing committees and those kinds of things. A lot of the committee work stopped because everybody was trying to figure out what was happening with their teaching loads, but we still had to advise students, we still had to, we had research programs. So I had research students that I was still meeting with, and trying to keep my research group on track. And, you know, collaborators have expectations, and they have deadlines and things they need to meet for grants. And so we still had work we had to do in whatever capacity we could do that.

AR: Obviously, there was a lot of change. Who did you work with closely executing your response to COVID?

JSC: Um, well, I think, you know, it really depends again, on which part, you know, as a department, and teaching a lower level course, there were four or five of us that were teaching the course together. So we were all almost in, you know, almost hourly contact? If not, I mean, for sure, daily contact. The other 00:24:00person, you know, would be my, my program assistant, Amy Hardy, she was really essential and canceling our reservations, you know, making sure that things were moving for our program that needed to move and handling all of the budgetary implications that came in around that also.

AR: So in addition to your role as an instructor, you also work in other capacities. Can you briefly tell us what you did and how COVID affected that?

JSC: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of that was probably through the ideas Alliance, you know, we did cancel events. There were also others, you know, there I do a lot of service work on campus. I'm involved in a lot of different facets of, of, you know, the university in terms of like, committees and things like that, and one of the committees we were working on at the time was actually 00:25:00looking at restructuring the university. And we had, we had basically done a, a, you know, a survey, like getting feedback all through the fall of 2019. And then, you know, 2020 came around, and we were planning, we had all these plans for getting this report out, and all this analysis done. And that didn't happen till the summer. So, projects that were, you know, in the works that were expected to be done, were also just prolonged, you know, there were a number of big projects on campus that we would have thought would have been done by summer of 2020. But we're not probably done until spring of 2021.

AR: COVID has been challenging for everyone. ,what are the three things you're most proud of? Regarding your response to COVID? This could be either teaching committee work, anything?

JSC: Yeah, I think, um, I think there's been a few things. So I would also say, 00:26:00and I haven't really talked about this, I guess. But, um, so as the director of the ideas Alliance, I have a sister program at UW system, it's the Women's and Gender Studies Consortium, and the director of that consortium, and I decided in response to some of the feedback that we'd receive to establish an independent system wide caregiving Task Force. And actually, we're presenting on Thursday, if anybody's interested, but at the Gender Equity Council meeting. But we know that was a that was, that didn't matter. But, um, so we formed this task for us. So we actually had sent out a statement and, and said, like, caregivers are having a really hard time, it's really critical for us to think about student caregivers, employee caregivers, and we define caregiving very broadly, right. 00:27:00It's not just with children, but could be immunocompromised individuals, elderly and, you know, support. And so we convened a basically this task force of volunteers, most of them caregivers themselves in some capacity, from all job positions across the system. So we had a representative from every institution across the system. And we had, we found people to volunteer their time, and they were from all different job positions. And that actually led to some really, really great findings, we created rubrics for performance evaluations, we ended up creating a survey and we surveyed UW System employees, and found that we had 1000 responses that we ended up analyzing, and then providing a report to all administrations across the UW system at all the different institutions and that, 00:28:00that work, I'm really proud of that work. Because in whatever way, we've moved the needle forward, not just not just for the response to COVID. But in academia, caregivers are oftentimes left out. And so I'm really proud that we were able to one convene this task force of volunteers and move things forward. And, and, and how see some change and still see some change. We're still seeing some, some, some, some effects of that. So that's one thing. I think, you know, as an instructor, I'm also, you know, I'm also proud that we've evolved, like we've, you know, we've, some of our teaching practices have evolved to, really, to see what and we're starting to learn what students want, you know, we're 00:29:00starting to learn about teaching with flexibilities and different class modalities and, and things that other institutions might have been doing, but we're moving along in that that area. And then the third thing I would say is that this is a personal one, but until last week, I had gotten I was able to have my, my nine and seven year old continually wear their mask at school until they just basically, I asked them if they were still doing it and they just kind of didn't want to answer and I'm like, okay, you don't have to lie to me. So, um, so they were but we have my youngest child who was born two months premature and, and has lung issues. And so it we've, you know, as a family, we've just tried to really take care of her and protect her. And that's, so that would 00:30:00probably be the third thing.

AR: All right, um, how has your job changed because of the global pandemic?

JSC: Oh goodness what hasn't changed? I mean, in some ways, things are coming back to some sense of normalcy, but I don't, I don't know that it will ever come back. And I don't know that it should. There were some things that, you know, we learned about one, you know, the importance of the fleetingness of life. We saw, you know, that there's, there's trauma around us and people, people will need to heal. But you just don't know, you don't get tomorrow, tomorrow's not, you know, you're not given that, you have to just have to wait to see if you're still here. And I think that was really a recognition of COVID. But I also think that, 00:31:00you know, like, there are other things that we can take and turn them into what might have been negatives, and turn them into positives. And things like utilizing virtual meetings and things like that, like, you know, how do we make sure that we're, you know, keeping the lessons we learned, but still moving forward in the process?

AR: You work in the woman in science program, correct?

JSC: Yep.

AR: Can you please explain what it is and how the program was changed due to COVID?

JSC: Yeah. So that is why I've been talking about the ideas Alliance. And I should have, I should have said that early on. It used to be the UW system, women and science program. But it has just recently been renamed as of December of 2021. The UW System Administration approved our renaming to be the ideas Alliance. So that's why I think we've talked a lot about that.

AR: All right. How do you think students were impacted by virtual learning? Do 00:32:00you think they got an adequate education?

JSC: Oh, goodness. That's really difficult because I don't think it was for lack of trying that maybe it didn't go quite as you know, it's hard when you're being when it's not your choice, right. I think when it's your choice, it's different. I think that online modalities are a great option for some students. I think it also allowed people to probably see where their strengths and weaknesses set, both instructors and students, not just, you know, I think there are a number of instructors that also have said, if somebody else would like to teach online, I'm happy to let that go. So I think I think that, again, to take, you know, to try to take the lessons out of this, and not to sidestep the question, because I 00:33:00don't, I'm sure there are people that I know, there were people that really struggled, and I know that it was really difficult. I also know that there were people that liked some of it, you know, and would like to see, you know, different pathways of incorporating that. And I think that's where as educators, we can learn and we can, we can actually evolve into providing people with more options. So if you want to take one class online and three in person, or if you want to take three online and one in person like or, you know, whatever, it's really up to you to provide that opportunity. But also acknowledging, you know, that maybe we need more support, and we didn't have that support, and what can we do to make sure that support is there? And so there's I think there are lots of things, lots of lessons that we can learn from both sides and students to you know, what do you need if you want to be an online student? Or why would you rather be in person or what so I think there's lots that we can do there.


BG: Okay, this will be part three of the interview, Blake Gibbs will be interviewing Jennifer Christus. So, in the fall of 2021, vaccines are readily available on campus and in fact, strongly advocated by administration in the CDC. What were your initial thoughts about the vaccines?

JSC: Well, I am a scientist. So I wanted to see the data. That was the first thing I wanted to do. I wanted to and I will say I looked at the data myself, right. I wanted to be informed. I wanted to make sure that you know, I was evaluating the data in a similar way and talking to my colleagues, you know, what did they see, what did you know we were having? Even though that's maybe not necessarily our area of, you know, like if we're thinking about virologists 00:35:00or immunologists like chemists are still right there at the edge of all of that. So we were still having conversations regularly about the science and about the vaccine potential. And, and after looking at the data I was, you know, I'm really excited, actually. So it's great, yay.

BG: So how do you feel now that things are getting back to normal? And for that matter, what is normal to you?

JSC: Yeah, so I would say things aren't back to normal for me, things are pretty far from normal still, because I have a three-year-old that's unvaccinated and has a pre-existing condition to serious illness. So the world for me is still pretty scary. On top of it, as I said earlier, my husband is in the fitness industry, and that industry still has not yet recovered, he is getting paid about 50% as to what he was before COVID. So our lives are external to mine, and 00:36:00even mine is still evolving sort of slowly back to what the post COVID world will be. But there are so many, many things that I don't like in my world that are still not normal.

BG: And you might have already clarified this, but have you come back to teaching in person? If so, when?

JSC: Yes. So I did not teach online in the fall of 2021. And then I came back in the spring of right, let me say no fall 2020. I came back in person in spring of 2021.

BG: Okay. What living and working during the time of COVID has taught you about yourself and others?

JSC: Um, well, I think one thing, and this, this, my family we've talked about is that we actually need to make more time for each other. So when we moved to 00:37:00online teaching, my husband actually lost his job, and was off for three months, while my children were also home from school. And so all five of us were home together. And it actually was really nice. Like, despite the fact that obviously, there were horrible things happening with people dying in the world, like that was terrible. But personally, we didn't function as a slow moving family. There was always something going on, we were never home on the weekends, you know, we were sort of surviving rather than striving to be a little corny. But we, we have slowed down, we as a family have not re ramped, we've just decided we want to stay sort of, in that lane. And, and so I hope that hope that sticks.


BG: So as long as we still have time, I wanted to ask you a few questions about how you personally in your private life fare during COVID. Would that be alright?

JSC: Sure.

BG: Alright, so we were sent home a week before spring break, what did you do during your spring break of 2020

JSC: worked. We tried to move our classes online. And we and as I said, my husband lost his job on March 19. And clearly that date is seared in my head. And so like, we were trying to figure out what our new normal looked like, without what of us being employed. And I need to move my classes online. And all of a sudden, my husband needed to be an elementary ed instructor. For my two kids.

BG: Do you remember how long you thought the university would be closed?

JSC: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I sorry, that one I kind of jumped on, um, because 00:39:00everybody thought that it would be two weeks. And I was like, There's no way because I'm an aerosol chemist. And I was and I told my kids when they went back to school, I was like, you'll be lucky if you're not wearing your mask two years from now. And we are almost two years in. Because I could see what was coming. I was not surprised in any sort of way. Yeah.

BG: What were you living and with whom? Or where were you living and with whom and how were COVID protocols dealt with at first in your home?

JSC: Yeah, so we so as I kind of said, we were actually really able to isolate because my husband lost his job. I was teaching online. The elementary schools were closed down and we pulled my youngest out of daycare. So we were by ourselves. There were five of us and I was the only one that went out. I Did the grocery shopping I was masking. At the time I was wearing gloves. I was even 00:40:00actually saying this because it's for a story, but I even went so far to have protective layers on because we didn't have an understanding of the virus at the time. So I would leave my clothes outside. So I would take my sweatshirt and sweatpants off and come in, and, and really try to protect everybody in the household at the time. And so I think, you know, my, the rest of my family didn't leave the house for probably six to eight weeks. My in- laws live very close to us. When they would come over, they would stand at the edge of the garage and like we would stand by the house. And they weren't going anywhere either. Like now That's so silly to us, right? Like now we're like, Well, if you aren't talking to anybody, and we aren't talking to anybody, you can totally talk to each other. We didn't even do that. Like we didn't even do that. That's not like we were very separate and my in- laws still continued to be very 00:41:00careful because obviously they're there at some risk. And so we were very careful to start with.

BG: So was there any friction between anybody with all the agreements of masking social distance?

JSC: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I would say that my family is an Iowa and Iowa it was not taken to the level that it was in Wisconsin, and that really, I would see things on social media and whatever else and I I thought Iowa was in a different world. Like I just would look at it and say what how are you not like everyone here has masks on Why does no one have masks on and it really did create a tension point. We did not go see my family for four months. We missed Christmas. We missed all the holidays like we did not we did not go there until late 00:42:00summer. And that was after that was right before my kids so my kids were in school all of last year they did not do well other than like the many quarantines that they went through. But they started in person and that lasted seven days before they had to go for that a quarantine but we went to see my family before that and even as late as last year there were still real like last summer there were still real, real big differences between how it was there versus how it was here.

BG: So with everything that happened so quickly, how were you feeling emotionally and how were the people around you coping as well?

JSC: Well, I think um, you know, my kids are tired of it. The fact that my three year old said like she'll argue with me and say that she can go on a store because she has a mask like there's some sadness to me right in that like that 00:43:00she's like, I can't go in I have a mask I can wear a mask I can be big and I'm like yeah, that wasn't why I didn't want you to go on the store it's just you take a lot of time like it's slow when I go through like nothing but she's justifies things with that she doesn't know life without a mask like that's you know, that's a different upbringing and you know, the older two are tired of it they're they want to be done with it they are like the rest of us you know, like I don't want to do it anymore I don't they even though I know what's best and I know what I should be doing and so it is hard we still my family and I still don't do a lot of things like we still don't eat out a lot like if the restaurants really busy we're not gonna go there. We have kind of chosen to stay out of sort of high pact situations and if we do that we asked that they match 00:44:00like the one that our kids mask and we mask so we try to obviously not ask them to do what we wouldn't do so. But yeah, two years has gone by quickly but still seems like a very long time.

BG: Do you know anyone close to you or yourself who got COVID And what were those symptoms? Like? If so,

JSC: yeah, so actually we made it until January of this year without COVID entering our household and actually it was a really strange this is another really strange case so my daughters were both exposed and my oldest actually ended up getting it we were all together we had dinner with an our some other family members and my in laws and My youngest, not eligible for a vaccine only 00:45:00three people ended up with COVID. And with symptoms, so my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, both got COVID. And my oldest daughter got COVID. And the rest of us didn't. We gave her a rapid test in the kitchen, like with my three-year -old standing, like right below, scrubbing, you know, I mean, viral load everywhere, I'm just thinking, Oh, my goodness, viral load everywhere. And like, she's the only person that was symptomatic or that. So it's, it was very weird, you know, my science brain is not accepting this like this. I don't know how to explain. I don't like it. But yeah, I mean, other than that, like my, my sister-in-law, and brother-in-law, like it went through their family. Also in January of this year, like, we all we really had made it until January of this year, and then it kind 00:46:00of just went through our family. So we had a wedding where my husband's cousin's wedding was postponed, because half of the bridesmaids and groomsmen had it. And so yeah, lots of people and the symptoms, everybody had mild symptoms, except my father-in-law. He was a little scared. And enough so that we were starting to get concerned, but then he kind of just got better, and then it was okay.

BG: So did everyone close to you kind of just get the symptoms and go through the process? Or Did anyone you know pass away or anything?

JSC: No, no, nobody, everybody just really had mild symptoms. And, and I don't know that we would have even known that my, my daughter had it, other than she had actually another issue on top of it that also causes fevers. So she had gotten a fever, and I called the doctor's office and said, you know, maybe we 00:47:00need to test her for multiple things. And they were like, yeah, and she came in and they were like, oh, yeah, well, it's fine. You know, she has this other issue. And that's probably, and then they're like, but we'll give her a COVID test just in case. And I was like, yeah, maybe we should. And then we gave her a rapid test at home before they even did. Because I couldn't wait. And I was like, well, we'll just try it and see. And then it came back positive. And I was like, What do I do? Like, oh, no, like, I don't know that we would have even known that. That she was sick from the sort of secondary test.

BG: So for the story, do you have anything else you would like to add?

JSC: Um, I think the only other thing that I would add is that I think that as a caregiver, I think one I haven't even processed what has happened, because I've been too busy taking care of everybody else. So I've had to take care of my 00:48:00students, I've had to help take care of some of my colleagues, those people who are, you know, not through 10 the tenure process yet I am like that, that's a little bit more comforting. I don't have to sort of push on research and those kinds of things. I had to help, you know, I try to figure out what to do with my research students. I've tried to keep my kids safe. I had to deal with, you know, making sure my in-laws were okay. Like, I don't know that, like there's that I've processed yet what this has all been about. And I think that will probably come at some point. But I think that the caregivers in particular, and this is why we created the task force, we're in a really unique situation and continue to be in a really unique situation that has, you know, everybody sort of moved on from as COVID has, has gone away now. Apparently, that's what they're telling us.

BG: Do you have any plans in your future to kind of, you know, take some time 00:49:00for yourself and be like, Okay, this is my time to kind of relax and just be more about myself.

JSC: No, no, no, actually, I would be nice. That would be great. Um, you know, but there that's, that's just probably not likely in the cards for a while. So one of these, one of these days that will happen. We'll make it happen.

BG: All right. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us and we appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

JSC: Thanks.