Things happened fast in Slovakia from Monday to Friday, with news coming everyday about how the coronavirus was spreading throughout the world and governments began taking drastic steps. On Monday morning I held my last class on campus before switching to online only. Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting our family and ministry in Slovakia.
Things Happened Fast
This week, the WHO declared Corovid-19 a pandemic, the epicenter shifted from China to Europe and Slovakia went from 0 to 44 confirmed cases of Corovid-19. As I recall, from Monday to Saturday, here’s a timeline of developments in Slovakia.
Sunday: The first six confirmed cases of Corovid-19 were announced in Slovakia. Elisabeth’s high school is going to be closed all week for a flu epidemic (unrelated to coronavirus).
Monday (March 9): I taught Hebrew live on campus but later that morning students were sent home and classes were shifted to online only. Jana is home with the flu.
Tuesday: Some high schools began to announce closures (but not Max’s).
Wednesday: Principals began to close down elementary schools.
Thursday: Starting next Monday, the government closed all schools from preschool to university for two weeks, they restricted public gatherings, shopping centers were closed, and everyone returning from anywhere outside Slovakia had to go into mandatory quarantine for two weeks.
Friday: The first case of Corovid-19 was confirmed here in Banská Bystrica. This is the first day I stayed home instead of going into the office. I taught Advanced Exegesis of Ecclesiastes and Advanced Exegesis of Genesis over Skype and it worked pretty well.
Saturday: The number of confirmed cases of Corovid-19 in Slovakia rises to 44.
Shifting Modes of Family and Ministry
As of Friday we’ve been practicing social distancing :-). We’re all home to work and study. I’m curious as to just how this is going to work. It’s good that Max and Elisabeth have their own rooms but we have a collective work space in a loft looking down on our living room/kitchen/dining room that might make it a little hard for all of us to work at the same time. We’ll see.
On the other hand, we’re grateful for this beautiful, comfortable house and especially the fact that we have mountains and forest right out our door where we can walk and spend time without worrying about spreading the virus. Here’s a view from a lookout point about a 45 minutes hike from our back door.
Even if they’re studying from home the kids will have some extra time on their hands so I’m hoping we’ll be able to spend some of that time together reading and studying Scripture. We’ll see–best laid plans…
In any case, this is going to be a test of family dynamics.
As for my work activities, other than being at home, some things don’t change much. My research responsibilities stay the same. Right now I have three big projects I’m working on so there’s plenty to do if I have extra time.
The main difference would be that classes are taught through Skype or Microsoft Teams. Thankfully, I have plenty of experience with that and distance teaching in general. So all of my lectures for my Hebrew Bible class are online.
Jana also has to provide some English lessons or activities for her first graders so they can spend their time will on break.
Perhaps most importantly of all, we’re trying to think of ways to take advantage of this world crisis for God’s kingdom. We want to spend (telephone) time with people who may not have much fellowship and pray for Banská Bystrica, Slovakia and the situation throughout the world.