Working from home a new reality for students, families

Romi (left) and Adelaide (right) Jimenez tending to their family's seedlings in Cadmus, Ont. Photo credit: Courtesy of Ana Jimenez

Ever since Ontario declared a state of emergency because of COVID-19, people have been asked to stay home.

Those of all ages are adapting to a radical change in their lives.

Ontario Tech student, Taylor Dilnot, 22, is studying Biology: Life Sciences. She lives in Oshawa just on the border of Whitby

“I was expecting it,” she says, about the university closing in light of the pandemic.

Dilnot has also been trying to stay up-to-date with what is happening concerning the virus in her area and globally.

“I knew it was a matter of time,” she says.

Working from home has both positive and negative impacts, says Dilnot.

She says transitioning from physically attending school and now having to complete assignments online has impacted her negatively. She says she feels like she isn’t learning as well because she doesn’t have face-to-face interaction.

When she is not doing homework , Dilnot says she has taken up embroidery and plans to sew fakes rhinestones and various types of beads onto one of her jean jackets.

She says she has more free time to do activities she loves, since she doesn’t have to commute to and from school almost everyday. Before the transition to online classes, Dilnot says it usually took her an hour to reach the university by bus.

“I’m bored. I feel like I have more time on my hands now that I’m not commuting all the time,” says Dilnot.

She has also taken up baking as a hobby and been staying at home as much as possible.

On a more positive note, Dilnot says she has read on the internet families with young children have been encouraging their kids to draw pictures and tape them to their windows.

Difficulties created by COVID-19 and dealing with it are not much different for faculty members and support workers at Durham College (DC).

Ana Jimenez works in the international office at DC.

She lives about 30 minutes northeast of Oshawa in a village called Cadmus.

Cadmus is a very rural area and she says the internet connection is not very good.

“[Internet] connectivity has been definitely the biggest challenge that I have faced,” says Jimenez.

She says during online meetings via videochatting platforms like Skype and Zoom, she misses parts of conversations because the internet connection at her home will cut out.

It has also been challenging for her two daughters, Adelaide, 6, and Romi, 4, to transition from attending school to having to stay at home.

When Jimenez was at work, her daughters knew the normality of that lifestyle. But, now that she is at home, Jimenez says it’s difficult for her girls to grasp that she is still working…even though she is at home.

“I’ve tried the tactic of ‘pretend this little corner of the house is Durham College’,” she says. “And that, unfortunately, translated into them thinking ‘mommy is just pretend working’ .”

But she says she is thankful her parents live with their family because her mother helps entertain the kids during the hours Jimenez has to work.

Adelaide and Romi do crafts with their grandma, or she helps them work on schoolwork — like writing.

As well, Jimenez says working from home and having her daughters there is tough. She has to find ways to distract them while she is busy working, and she cannot spend time with her daughters while she is working.

“I can hear them laughing and playing…and it kind of makes me feel like I’m even more isolated, because I can hear them, and see what’s happening, but I can’t participate,” she says.

She says although her daughters don’t fully understand why they have to stay home from school, they are adjusting by helping around the house tending to their chickens and goats.