Return to normal brings excitement, apprehension

The Wolf Staff

“The return to normal” is a phrase that has been tossed around since normal was stripped away from us. Now that the end of the pandemic has never seemed nearer, the prospect of returning to “normal” evokes the question, “How do we handle normal?”

The Wolf staff responded to a survey in May regarding their feelings about the reopening world, the summer of 2021 and the return to school in September.  Overall, we feel great excitement for the many opportunities that were previously off the table, but we also share a sense of caution that things may not improve as fast as some may hope.

The past few months have brought with them a whirlwind of conflicting information on mask-wearing, safety precautions, vaccine availability and more. It feels as though we take two steps forward, one back and then progress back and forth again.  Understandably, the end of the pandemic represents conflicting emotions in many of us.

We all qualify for a vaccine at this point, and nearly all of us are fully or partially vaccinated.  Despite the recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have no plans to stop wearing masks. This decision comes from the grating anxiety that we may not be out of the woods yet. We choose to err on the side of caution until we definitively see that cases won’t be skyrocketing once again.

We have a positive outlook on the improving safety of many environments in the coming months, but some still don’t seem safe in the near future. Indoor and outdoor seating at restaurants are environments where we already feel particularly safe and that we see improving drastically in the coming months. Sporting events don’t seem the safest at the moment, but we see them improving soon, and the athletes among us are confident that they will be able to return to their seasons. Many social gathering places, such as shopping malls and movie theatres, are still uncertain, but vaccination rates are playing a large part in making them more viable.

Even into the coming months, we are very uncomfortable with large events of unknown people, so it’s safe to say that parties and concerts are nowhere on our radar.  Environments such as indoor gyms and public transit seem quite risky to us, but we have optimism that they could improve.

The excitement we hold for the summer is highlighted by plans that would not have been possible up until now. The ability to travel and especially to visit distant or elderly family members is among these returning possibilities. Seeing friends with the peace of mind of mutual vaccination is another taste of normal that is finally attainable.

The Wolf staff has very mixed feelings about the current safety of in-person schooling, but come September, we hope to see it as overwhelmingly safe. We share an eagerness to be back in the classroom again and to experience campus environments, but this shift prompts excitement from some and nervousness from others.

Many of us are anxious about jumping the train from the online workflow we have had to adapt to this past year. Similarly, having to relearn the social skills that many of us have lost is a very daunting idea.

There is much to look forward to, but unfortunately, the behavior of the masses can still dictate just how smoothly the next months go.  We recognize that although things are returning to normal, the reopening world must not create an illusion of total safety. The return to normal will be complex and difficult, but we are ready for it to come.