“I think getting the vaccine was very memorable like it was a–it was a big relief. I just felt like instantly better and it made me realize how much stress I’d been holding around the pandemic.”
Dr. Gwyne White is an assistant professor of psychology and academic advisor at Merrimack College. Dr. White decided to continue to teach in-person and advise on campus during the duration of the 2020 school year.
In the interview, White describes what her life looked like before the pandemic and her experiences during. She details how she spent the lockdown period drowning in what she describes as never-ending childcare after giving birth to her second child in February of 2020 while also raising a toddler. White also explains the experience she had returning to campus in the fall and how she adjusted to teaching and advising a whole new way, and touches upon her opinions about online teaching.
Gianna Cioto: In the summer of 2020 the state’s reopening plan began to go into effect. Was there something that you were really excited to open back up? Like would it be like the parks, for your kids and stuff like that?
Gwyne White: Oh yes. Yeah, definitely like the parks. I was definitely pretty pleased when the parks opened back up. [laughter] That was great. I definitely was going, so I was going to a couple of isolated parks, with the kids anyway, because I was like, this – I will risk this. But, it was like a – like a very uncomfortable experience because I’m like I am literally risking my kids lives in the sort of like larger context for them to be able to play on like a slide and stuff. But, I was really pleased when that opened back up. I don’t think anything else – I don’t think I noticed anything else opening back up. Because I was – because I just had major – so, I had a C section. So, I had major surgery, so I was at highest risk, and then I had the infant and then obviously my daughter. So, I don’t think that I left – I literally remember the one shopping trip that I did, I think in almost all of 2020. Like, until September 2020, I didn’t go anywhere. Because I was like at the highest risk. So, we were – I was really locked down. I remember the one time, I was like, I’m going to go out and do the shopping, and it was such a creepy – like a post apocalyptic world experience, because it was so empty quiet, it was like real concerning and I came back home, and I was like, no, no. Husband, you do this. [laughter] This was weird and unpleasant, so yeah so. That was really the only thing – the parks really opening up, because other than that by the time I was out everything was basically opened back up.
GC: Oh, okay.
GW: Yeah. So, I was locked down for that like whole time.
GC: So, when you went out, was that the first time you kind of saw everyone with their masks on and, like the lines outside the grocery stores and stuff like that?
GW: Yeah, so, I never saw the lines outside the grocery store because I didn’t – I didn’t go grocery shopping for like a year um.
GW: Yeah, so, my husband – my husband always has done predominantly the grocery shopping, but then he just fully took it over because it was like, you know, you were only supposed to go out once and you were supposed to limit exposure, right, in the initial stage, especially before we had anything. And so he – he did the exposure based stuff. So, I went to Costco and I went to Savers, because it’s a like a used clothing place and the kids needed more clothes, because you couldn’t like get clothes and so – so that’s what I went to, and it was – so there weren’t lines, but it was that kind of post-apocalyptic emptiness. I wore like gloves and I had the mask on, and it was so quiet and creepy, so that that was the real memory and I literally, I came home and I don’t think I went back out again for another two months.
GC: Oh wow.
GC: Even with your husband going to the store and everything it’s obviously still scary that he could potentially bring it home because he’s going out as well, so.
GW: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was a very anxious time. He was also going to work because his boss basically was like a COVID denier. And so, his boss was like making everybody go into the office. It was like, it was really bad. His boss also was like pretty like old school and was like, why do you need to be home? Like she’s home on maternity leave, like she can take care of the kids.
GW: Okay, so like he was miserable and then like we didn’t have anything set up properly for it. So, like he was on a like a folding table in our basement doing work, and it was like, yeah, so it wasn’t–
GC: Oh wow.
GW: Yeah, he switched jobs subsequently. [laughter]
The interview was conducted in North Andover, Massachusetts on November 23, 2021 by Gianna Cioto.
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.