PITTSBURGH – In light of the spread of COVID-19, Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order and the closure of schools and businesses, the Carlow community has transitioned into a remote work environment. Most are working from home.
The transition has been a significant change for many, forcing them to look at how they balance work and family life.
With her husband and teenage children at home, assistant director of the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA) Lisa Sharfstein manages to carry on with her work duties, balancing both staff and faculty responsibilities, while at the same time caring for her family at home.
“This has essentially a been a time of grief for us, especially the students. Who knew that our last class before spring break would be the last time we would get to be together in person for the remainder of the semester? I get a sense that my students really miss their peers,” she said.
While she strives to be a support to her students, keeping in communication with them, and continuing to encourage them in their education, she is simultaneously caring for her own children. “It is my daughter’s senior year of high school. This is not how she pictured ending her year. And like our Carlow students, she understandably misses her friends.”
Although Sharfstein is balancing a lot on her plate, she realizes that she has been focusing on all the right things when it comes to her work. “Supporting and caring for my students has always been the number one priority for me. Whether it is my classroom students, those in the CAA, or the tutors that work there, I want them all to know that we care about them and their education.”
Amid these changes, Sharfstein also sees the importance of simply separating her workspace from her home space.
“I am working in our home office. I didn’t want to set my work space up in some place like my bedroom. I don’t want to associate the two together,” she said.
Student Records Assistant Nick Dewitt agrees with keeping two separate spaces.
“At the end of the day, I make sure to put away my laptop and clean up all my work things away from view,” he said.
Keeping the physical spaces separate is not the only healthy step to take in helping balance work and home life. Associate Professor in Carlow’s Psychology and Counseling department Travis Schermer Ph.D, says that everyone should also be sticking with the same schedule.
“Setting a daily schedule for our lives and then sticking to it goes a long way to maintaining wellness. This includes a consistent sleep schedule, exercise, work, and fun – after all, fun is an essential need,” he said.
Through it all, the Carlow community sees the positive in the current circumstances. For Sharfstein it is living out the Carlow mercy value by caring for others. “I find strength by being there for my family and student. How can I help others or give back to helps others? By doing that, I in turn get through my own trials,” she said.
And for Dewitt it is cherishing relationships. “They say you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. With us now more isolated than we’ve ever been, I think we’ll be much more appreciative of our friends and colleagues and of our interactions with them when we get back to our regular routine,” he said.