by Max Barry

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Region: Forest

Candlewhisper Archive wrote:Question on ethics, I'm curious to know your thoughts, all.

I have patients who feel anxious about going to work because of covid 19.

There workplaces have taken all reasonable measures to protect their staff, but some people remain understandably frightened.

They want signing off work for anxiety. They are not wanting medical treatment, as when not at work they are not anxious.

Do you think it's reasonable for them to be signed off work by their doctor?

This is something that I have been wrestling with too, in a slightly different way. It's interesting that you should mention it.

This year at my school, the students (and their parents, in other words) can make the decision that they want to be entirely virtual, or they can attend classes at school (and while only 10% of the student body was virtual in the beginning of the year, it's been over 50% since December, and in some classes, I have five kids in front of me and twenty-five on Zoom. We faculty (and the administrators and other adult workers at large, I should clarify) simply must report to school physically, despite the fact that everyone is equipped to be virtual and sometimes the entire school (for virus-related reasons, inclement weather, or some pre-planned reason) will have an "all virtual" day, in which we teach from home. But if you're literally 75 years old, have high blood pressure, and have an 82 year old husband at home, too bad, you still have show up to work, despite the fact that no substitutes would be required for the few remaining students, since large common areas have been set up with constant supervision for spacing out as needed and in case teachers are home because they have themselves been quarantining, which is the only acceptable reason to be home.

Now, as an entirely healthy young guy who lives alone, I am not so worried about the virus, given that I always take every precaution, and because if I get sick, I am not at risk of spreading it to others in the household. But for the aforementioned 75 year old colleague (and others who are older in general, who have co-morbidities, who care for highly vulnerable spouses or parents, etc., they are not allowed to teach virtually from home as a matter of general principle (only for the ten days if they have been exposed, or if someone tested positive, which thankfully has not happened in the context of the building yet). But lazy fifteen year olds who don't want to have to sit in class all day can go virtual with absolutely no fuss, and absentmindedly tune into class while also clearly playing video games or sleeping.

So everything's just grand, innit?

And yet, I can also see the school's perspective, insofar as they are committed to maintaining a model from fully physical to fully virtual (which itself is another argument). Granting that this is something they want to do, it simply would not work if half of the adults who would normally be in the building want to work remotely, since the system would not function with such large numbers of people out who coordinate the day. Could the dean of students decide to discipline troublemakers virtually from home? Obviously not. And having a needs-based system of priority ("old people with reasons or sick people with reasons can stay home") creates twice as many problems as there are individuals.

From a purely virus-containment perspective, the whole year should have been fully virtual, of course, but not every student is equally well equipped to survive and adapt to not coming to school, and those who remain form a loyal "core" from my point of view, so it's rather mixed, and I myself have conflicting feelings regarding the whole thing. However, I don't know that I would be so ambivalent if I were, say, old, or obese, or immunocompromised, or diabetic, etc. etc.

So it's a good question you raise. How do you feel about it, or what is the general feeling among professionals in your neck of the woods?