One year since my last in-person class

On Tuesday, March 10, I told my students we probably wouldn't be back in class after spring break.


On Monday, March 9, 2020, I took a flight to Oklahoma City for the day. As best as I can remember, no one at the airport was wearing a mask. The person sitting next to me on the plane scrubbed her seat down with a Chlorox wipe. I was surprised. I returned back to Houston that evening. And on Tuesday, March 10, I went to school as usual. In the afternoon, I entered my Property I class. The room was full of about 70 students. No one was wearing a mask. No one was social distanced. I noticed that the College had placed a container of Chlorox wipes on the podium, and some hand sanitizer. I didn't think to use either.

As I began class, I told my students "We have a situation" but they should remain calm. I told my students that a number of Universities had cancelled class, and we were likely to do the same. I also doubted that we would be back after spring break. I joked that we had an emergency Zoom training. Then, I proceeded to teach a class on Co-Ownership. At the end of class, I invited everyone up to my office hours, where there is most certainly not six feet of distance. Then I joked, "I hope to see everyone on Thursday." I wouldn't.

Later that evening, I taught another section of Property II. By that point, a few students attended by Zoom--a first for me. I mentioned that we might have a "long spring break." Someone said, "Woo." I replied, "Not woo." At the end of class, I bid my students farewell. I looked over the class somewhat solemnly. I knew we wouldn't be back anytime soon.

By Wednesday, the campus was shut down. And on Thursday, I began my Zoom lectures.

One year later, I am still lecturing on Zoom. My hair is much bigger.

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  1. Buildings are stupid. Travel is stupid.

  2. Arrrrrggghhh! Flashbacks to G.P. Smith, Rule Against Perpetuaties, and the fucking fox.

    Still, I remember the case name "Pierson v. Post," so Prof. Smith must have done something properly, as I'm not sure I can remember any specific Torts cases or that professor's name.

    1. 500 people in the world understand the Rule Against Perpetuities. I bet Josh is one of them.

  3. I started wearing a mask in March but Cuomo didn’t announce a mask mandate unto mid-April and nationally the mask mandates didn’t begin until July. In both cases wearing masks appears to have reduced the transmission of Covid. Google “ny Covid deaths by day” and you get a graph for every state that has both “deaths” and “new cases” and the graphs make it pretty obvious that masks and lockdowns are effective to stop the spread.

  4. I remember the anticipation. Like many a disaster novel (The Stand, On the Beach) I knew something was coming. More specifically, I knew a government overreaction was coming and the only question was when. The local school shutdown came in the middle of the night. School committee members observed that some neighbor towns were shutting down schools and that justified calling parents up after they had gone to bed telling them there wouldn't be school in the morning. (We also banned leaf blowers and water bottles because the other towns were doing it. A bunch of followers.) A week or a few weeks later I was in a meeting at the university I work for when rumors started flying. Important people were being called into meetings and, the rumors went, school was about to close and everybody would be sent home. After I got home the rumors turned to reality.

    At the state level things were surprisingly moderate. Not well planned, but exceeding expectations. I didn't get the chance to use my escape route planning because the stay at home order never came. Businesses closed. People were allowed to walk outside (respecting the six foot radius ring of certain death that surrounded each person). The schools that didn't panic close had a few days' notice.

    1. Biggest mistake, biggest fraud heist, biggest, quickest mass murder, in human history, that lockdown.

      1. What Cuomo did early on was necessary...but if DeathSantis wins a second term then the prolonged lockdowns weren’t worth the economic price. So 3000 more people died in Florida than in a state with more restrictions...but I support a higher interstate highway speed limit which will increase the death rate. That said people that opposed the mask mandates are imbeciles.

        1. That's funny, a lawyer calling anyone an imbecile.

  5. I teach at a university as well. Having followed events beginning from Wuhan, I noticed that over the weekend of March 7-8 Stanford and the U. of Washington had announced they were moving classes online. I told students in my three classes on Monday that my university might do the same. By Wednesday it had announced there would be no classes Thursday and Friday so the large number of faculty without online-teaching experience (including me) could tool up, and that from March 16 on all instruction would be online. By March 23 no one except maintenance and police personnel were even allowed on campus.

    I know our classrooms, and so I suspect many cases were prevented, and perhaps some lives, especially among tinder employees, were saved. But in the intervening year many lives have been destroyed around the country and world. Was it worth it? I don’t know.

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