The Virus Makes the Timeline

A few weeks ago, we heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci: “You’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”  Fauci’s words ring ever-more true to me today than when he first spoke them.  Today marks the one-month anniversary of my daughter’s school closing, which has now extended through the end of the year.

The lack of control on the timeline for a return to relative normalcy post-coronavirus is certainly frustrating for everyone.  But, I realized my experience as an evaluator has prepped me for being on someone else’s (or in this case a virus’s) timeline.  In particular, it recalls my experiences working with Institutional Review Boards and schools district reviews for research protocols, which I wrote about several years ago.  The review protocols are often tedious and time-consuming, and I am ultimately on the timeline of these reviewing bodies.  There are some lessons that I have learned in working with IRBs and school districts that apply to our current situation:

Preparation: I cannot control review schedules, but I can plan for them as best as possible. In the current working world, I can keep tabs on evolving situations with museum operations and have rough plans in mind for if, how, and when evaluation activities may resume.  The landscape is ever-changing, but having a pulse on events is necessary for adaptability.

Communication: It is tempting to stop communicating when things are out of your control, and you have no tangible updates, but it is at these times that communication is even more important.  This tip loops back into preparation.  Staying in touch with the changing landscape helps us stay prepared for a time when we can take back control of the timeline.

Empathy: Uncertainty is challenging for everyone.  As has been said many times of late, “we are all in this together.”  While this is true, it is also important to keep in mind that we may each be affected by COVID-19 in different ways (physical illness, financial insecurity, food insecurity, etc.) as well as cope with uncertainty in different ways.  Stephanie wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about vulnerability, which can help us facilitate empathy and understanding among individuals.

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