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Morgan Pitelka, sons Ravi and Luca, and Brenda Carpen
Morgan Pitelka, sons Ravi and Luca, and Brenda Carpen

All from the same household, ITS’ Brenda Carpen and her family are experiencing the University’s remote work, teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brenda is Project Manager with ITS Infrastructure & Operations. Her husband, Morgan Pitelka, is Chair of Asian Studies and Professor of Japanese History. Their eldest son, Ravi Pitelka, is a Carolina freshman studying physics. Their youngest, Luca Pitelka, is a junior at East Chapel Hill High School.

The move to virtual working, teaching and learning has been a mixed bag, they’ve found.

The bright side

They enjoy the family time. “I love having both the boys at home,” Brenda said.

The food at home is much better and it’s easier to get more sleep, Ravi said. Software such as Zoom, Sakai, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and ServiceNow are supporting their remote needs.

“I can still hold study sessions with friends via Zoom,” Ravi said.

Like many of the rest of us, Brenda and her family have experienced challenges too with this shift to operating via the internet.

Morgan Pitelka working on his laptop
Morgan Pitelka

Back-to-back meetings and classes on Zoom — without a walk across campus or down the hallway as a break — are tiring.

Full house

With the entire family plus their dog, Otis, at home, they encounter more distractions. It’s harder to focus studying at home instead of at the library, Ravi said. For Brenda, it’s “hard to get into any rhythm.”

“With four of us working and studying remotely, it was important to have designated spaces for web conferences, phone calls and quiet space,” Brenda said. “We kept our common spaces of the living room and dining room open for anyone to just sit, chat, work (if they didn’t mind distractions) or relax.”

Otis the dog
Otis had to adjust too

As another challenge, the division between work and home has become really blurry, Brenda said.

Missing the face-to-face

Remote working, teaching and learning also lack the human touch. Ravi misses his friends.

Morgan misses face-to-face contact with his students, graduate students and colleagues. “Keeping in touch with my staff,” he said, “is harder to do because we are not physically in the same place.”

The dog’s perspective

The dog, Otis, might have had too much human contact, at least initially. All the walks and attention confused him, Brenda said, “but he’s settled down now.”

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