A COVID Oral History With a History Professor

I interviewed my housemate William Schultz about his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schultz is an adjunct history instructor at Evergreen Valley College, and is a graduate of European Master of Art’s program at San Jose State University—the same history program where I received my two degrees. I consider him a friend and a colleague. Since the California lockdown began in mid-March, his daily life shifted dramatically. Originally teaching an in-person course, he had to alter his course to a completely online environment like all other college instructors for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

Schultz led a relatively active social life prior to the COVID pandemic, but like many other Californians, finds himself confined to his home both voluntarily and as a result of the reduction of public social activities. His social circle has retracted to his family, one or two friends, and his fellow housemates—myself and my fiancée.

The COVID pandemic has also drastically altered his travel plans. Due to the travel ban placed on the United States by Europe, Schultz has had to postpone his trip to Europe. In addition, his road trip plans with friends was also cancelled due.

Like nearly everyone else in the country, he now heavily relies on technology (especially a strong wifi single) to maintain his social life, and teach his online courses for the Fall 2020 semester. Schultz expects to continue teaching online until the Fall 2021 semester. As a historian, Schultz expects this pandemic to eventually go away as have other epidemics. However, he is also aware that it may take more time than most people are aware or comfortable with. This shift in lifestyle must be maintained if we as a country and a species wish to eradicate with illness, yet Schultz does not want people to despair. He explains, “this is going to be a long term, but temporary problem the world will eventually return to normal. [We] will find a solution. I see a lot of people on the internet that despair about COVID, and think this is their new way of life. Life will eventually go back to normal. I am a historian, not a fortune teller, but knowing history, I know this period will eventually come to an end.” So, we can all take comfort in that. Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands and practice social distancing until a vaccine is distributed.

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