The new normal – Day 37

April 22, 2020

Yesenia Mendez, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: “The new normal” is a continuing series that looks into how members of the Los Medanos College community are coping with a shelter-in-place order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the shelter-in-place orders continue, many are still adjusting to their new routines and emotionally coping with the fact that the outside world is limited. Los Medanos College  instructor, Star Steers, finds herself devoting the majority of her time to her children and students during this pandemic. 

Steers had to relocate to her home in Oregon with her four children and international pair who was already living with her family this year. Her husband, Kirk Steers, is a first responder and is a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  FEMA Task Force 3.

“My husband is at our home in the East bay and so the kids and I have been up here for a month and we haven’t seen him in a month, maybe close to a month and a half,” said Steers. “We came up here before Oregon put a shelter-in-place, just because I didn’t want my husband to self-isolate separate from us, he did have people test positive in his department.” 

Being in Oregon and having in-home child care has been a real gift to Steers and her family because it has allowed her to focus on work and get materials rearranged for the five classes she teaches.  

“For me it’s been a relief to focus on school during the day and kids at night,” said Steers “All the extra emotional labor needs to be for my students and my kids and he’s [Kirk Steers] in the same situation, his head needs to be in the game at work.” 

Because her husband is on the FEMA Task Force, he’s often deployed to wildfires as an additional resource for the various fires up and down California, like those during the fall semester. Steers said that usually spring is pretty uneventful, until this year.

“In my head I’m always like, ‘oh spring semester, not a lot happens in spring semester with his job,’” said Steers. “Usually spring semester is about my job, my career gets to be the focus in spring because spring semester is when I’m traveling with the debate team and going to tournaments.” 

Along with her duties from her other classes, Steers is also Co-Director of the Debate Team. However, due to the Coronavirus, there will be no debate tournaments or traveling. 

“There’s no words to express how just upsetting it is to have to cancel tournaments, like nobody would ever do that willingly,” said Steers. “And then to know that there are also students who this was their last chance to debate for LMC, their last chance to represent us, who missed out on that, it’s heartbreaking.”

Even though many events and face-to-face lectures have been cancelled this semester, Steers wants to make sure her students still learn the skills they signed up to learn. She feels lucky to be able to devote as much time, and emotional labor as she can to her students during  this new normal, which is distant learning.

“I’m just so blessed to have a structure around me with regard to my childcare and with regard to my housing situation that I do have that extra time and effort, it’s not really extra but that I do have enough time and effort and love to give people that if my situation were different I just wouldn’t be able to.”said Steers. “I’m just trying to acknowledge the huge privilege I have and use that privilege to really care in places that need it.”