My COVID Experience by Tarryn Drage

Hi everyone,

Tarryn here, I thought I would give the blog a go this month and give Cheryl a well-deserved break. I want to share what I experienced with the COVID situation and the changes that have occurred from it, here at WiseClick Training.

So, the beginning of the WiseClick year was going strong, our focus was on marketing and improving our website, with changes like getting real pictures of our students featured and improved content layout

Then BANG! It all stopped as COVID hit!

All our lives turned upside down, in what seemed like a second! Cheryl, Sarah, and I were watching the news and following all the updates as they came through. Listening to the restrictions and deciphering what it meant for our student’s study and our own lives was the hardest part at the beginning.

My fiance has cancer, so I was anxious about his health, even more so than usual. The poor guy, I am a worry wort usually, so he stayed strong through plenty of days with me crying over the worry. He was in the military and fought in Afghanistan and jokes when you have done something like that cancer is no worries at all. He doesn’t let the ‘small things’ worry him.

Our hands were tied when WiseClick Training was forced to go to Zoom classroom sessions, and we can all look back on that time now and laugh. But I will say, I had some sleepless nights trying to work out how it was going to work for our students on Zoom. If I am honest, I was happy with the distraction from the worry in my personal life.

So, we had our Zoom training sessions up and running, then started to look for extra things we could do to help our students. We implemented open Zoom study sessions for our students and one on one Zoom sessions when our students needed help.

We also started to think about how we could stay connected as a workplace. By this time, Cheryl was not coming to the office due to social distancing restrictions, so it was just Sarah and myself here at the office. We all made a rule only to use Video calls if we needed Cheryl, and that certainly helped me to feel connected at the time. I also started to use Video calls to stay connected to my family, I was missing them a lot, and it helped to see their faces from time to time.

I feel Zoom was a success in that WiseClick was able to stay open, but some of our students found it hard going using Zoom. Our Classroom students choose the classroom option for just that reason, to be in the classroom. I certainly felt the difference in having to train via Zoom sessions. I love the interaction I get during a classroom delivery; it keeps me on my toes; there is always a different question asked that makes me think hard. It was hard to hear all the changes happening in our student’s personal lives. I certainly have some very strong and determined students out there who didn’t let the changes and extra things happening to them stop their training and study.

Not having everyone in the office, I certainly felt isolated at times. Now that we are open again, I miss Sarah walking around the empty office, signing loudly to her heart’s content. She certainly kept me entertained! Cheryl helped by always checking in on us, keeping us stocked up with lollies to snack on and sending us home early on an odd day. We celebrated Sarah’s Birthday via Zoom, and that was a highlight. Cheryl’s husband Wayne dropped us in a platter of goodies and some beverages. Sarah knew something was up when I would not let her see what was in the esky that day. Cheryl and Wayne also organised for Sarah’s mum to jump on the Zoom session, and it was a great end to a long day.

I can say around this time I felt very isolated on a personal level. It sounds funny now as I was coming to the office every day and seeing Sarah in person and Cheryl on Video calls. Still, I did go through a few weeks of coming home from the office and crying because I was worried about EVERYTHING and being bored stuck at home when I wasn’t in my work restricted bubble. My fiancé helped by getting hold of some silly games we could play together to get me laughing. He was very understanding, I mean he was REALLY isolating, not going out AT ALL. And here I was crying, and I got to leave the house every day! We also got a little greenhouse at home and tried to grow some plants, tried being the crucial word here, they didn’t last long.

While all of this was happening, we also took the opportunity to make some improvements around the office. We hired our contractor (Wayne – Cheryl’s husband) to give the office a fresh coat of paint and to renovate the toilets. I use the word ‘hired’ loosely as no money was exchanged. He does it all for love and to ensure the students and staff are happy. In the time we were shut, Wayne was able to paint the whole office and renovate one of the toilets; we now call that toilet the Balcatta Ritz. The other bathroom will get done eventually when we get another clear chunk of time.

The COVID numbers started to get better, and restrictions began to lift. I felt like it was almost a repeat of the beginning, watching the news and reading all the updates to figure out what it all meant for WiseClick and our students. We had a few weeks of a portion of students being allowed back to our training centre, still doing Zoom sessions for the classes that were too big to fit within the restrictions. It was stressful, but I was thankful we could have some students back at least.

We can now fit all students back in the classroom. Due to the social distancing, one on one sessions are still being done via Zoom, but I am sure it will not be very long before we can start doing this face to face again.

Overall, it was a stressful time, but I and we as a team have made it through the other side. There are some things we are still working on like the recordings of classroom sessions, which has turned out to be harder than expected. Zoom is now a tool we can use to help students, and I have already seen the benefits of having it set up. Some students have already caught the dreaded winter cold and flu but were able to stay at home and join the class via Zoom. I will admit my clothes feel a little tighter, but I do not mind as I know the lollies helped me get through some very long days. I think as a workplace we are stronger and more united and again can use Zoom here as a tool to work from home if needed and stay connected with each other. I am so glad to have students back in the classroom. Sarah was and is excellent entertainment, she keeps me on my toes and laughing most days as do the students.

I hope hearing about my experience will help you all to process your experiences. I can say that writing it down was a great way to reflect on everything over the last few months.

I will sign off with a big thank you to all the students for all the hard work they have put in throughout this time.

To Cheryl, Sarah, Aimie, Kerry, Georgina and Wayne thank you for everything you have done, you certainly all helped me get through this. I cannot forget my fiancé either as he was and still is my rock.

Until next time,

Tarryn
Training Coordinator
WiseClick Training

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