Well, we made it … 3 weeks of homeschooling later and I think we can safely agree that I am not meant to be teaching 5th grade writing or figure out this new way of learning math.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks and I am sure if you’ve been as glued to the news as we have over here, you’d agree.
Life in Taipei is a bit different these days although things seem to be slowly going back to normal. Of course, “normal” after coronavirus is a tad bit different from the “normal” before.
For instance, temperature checks are now the new “normal” so anytime you’re going out to eat, visit a friend, or go back to school, your temperature will be checked and if you have an elevated rating, you won’t be admitted. If you need to go to a hospital or doctor, it’s a good idea to wear a face mask and bring your passport to document travel history. Parents are no longer allowed inside schools unless they have an appointment and all big events have been canceled (including Juliana’s piano recital; I guess we’ll need to have one at home so she can wear the dress she picked out just for this occasion).
The majority of the people out and about wear face masks (this is Asia after all) and if you as much as sniffle when you’re not wearing one, be prepared for a stare down. Facial masks are now rationed after they were completely sold out for a few weeks – now, you have to queue in line at the pharmacy on specified dates to buy a few masks. Interestingly, toilet paper was also completely sold out for a while…
Travel restrictions and sometimes even bans come and go which led us to cancel our spring break beach vacation to the Philippines after their government imposed a ban from travelers from Taiwan, which resulted in hundreds of canceled flights and big confusion, only to have that decision reversed a day or so later. Living on an island means that quarantine is a real thing so if you come back from certain countries, you’re expected to self quarantine at home for two or more weeks and monitor symptoms. Which countries you ask? Well, that’s why you need to be glued to the news as that list remains fluid. Schools also ask about travels for family members of their students and recommend quarantining students if family members travel to specific countries – yes, they are indeed navigating a careful dance between public health prevention and privacy concerns.
If someone tests positive on the island, expect to read about that patient’s travel details including which subway stops and buses were visited in the days before diagnosis. Or in the case of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, expect a nation-wide emergency text alert detailing whereabouts of passengers when they disembarked the boat in Taipei prior to their quarantine in Japan.
And for us? Well, we continue to just roll with it. Our move to Wuhan this summer is … well… a bit uncertain. Many things can happen and all we can literally do at this point is hope for the best – speedy recovery, a cure, better diagnostics…. everything.
Our nightly conversations now do not focus on the house in Wuhan we had already picked out or who gets to pick their room first (I say me!) or what the kids’ school there will be like. Instead we openly discuss contingency plans: what would happen if there is an outbreak in Taiwan and we need to leave suddenly? And, what would happen if we can’t move to Wuhan this summer? (Spoiler alert: we don’t know yet)
As we are sorting out our “new normal,” we continue to stick with our “old normal” way of adaptation: continuing school and language classes and focusing on the things we can control like thinking through emergency evacuation logistics and reminding the kids for the millionth time to “wash their hands for at least for 20 seconds.”
That’s it from our corner of the world – hope everyone is staying safe out there. And don’t forget to wash your hands!