Love It Or List It — COVID-19 Edition

COVID-19 restrictions are lifting! Mask mandates are ending! Classes are resuming in-person instruction! While I’m not confident we’re out of the woods yet, that’s not the focus of my page today. Today, I present to you a list of the habits and new social norms that I hope stick around once we go back to “normal,” and some that I’m ready to leave in the dust.

These Sparked Joy

Wearing Masks…In The Winter and When Sick

As someone who is always cold all the time, winter is my least favorite time of the year. Fortunately, face masks kept out a lot of the cold air this winter, especially my thicker ones. I’ll likely keep those masks around to keep warm in colder months, rather than just using a scarf like I did pre-COVID-19.

I also think it’s a good idea to wear a face mask if you’re sick. People in other countries such as Japan, China and Taiwan wear face masks when sick as a courtesy. As shown with COVID-19, wearing a face mask can stop the spread of various diseases. By wearing a face mask when sick, you’re taking steps to keep people around you from getting sick, and that should be seen as a good thing.

Having Separated Lines for Food Places

Anyone who was on campus pre-covid can tell you that trying to get food in the Wigwam Dining Hall pre-COVID-19 was a bit of a mess. You just kind of had to figure out where the lines were and mush your way through to get lunch. Separating the food court into lines dedicated to one or two restaurants made getting food much more intuitive, and I hope the lines stay next year, even if the social distancing dots are no longer there. 

That said…

Standing Six Feet Apart In Food Lines

Though many people have not been following this rule on campus, I think standing at least a few feet apart in line for food should be normalized. If you can touch the person in front of you, take a step back. I like having the space, and I’m sure I’m not alone. 

Zoom Calls…Occasionally

I feel Zoom fatigue just as much as anyone else, but I have to admit I’ve enjoyed being able to attend classes from anywhere. I can get recital attendance from my bed, I can listen to my lectures while walking around campus, and I can have violin lessons from my home three hours away. Having classes be accessible through Zoom is nice, and I hope we can still utilize Zoom after classes resume in-person instruction. Perhaps it can be a method for sick students to attend class, or to have group meetings without having to reserve a space for everyone to meet.

Livestreamed Events

This may be specific to the music department, but it’s worth mentioning. This year, the music department has been livestreaming their events to YouTube and Facebook, and archiving several of these events to their YouTube channel. I hope this trend continues. Having events archived like this allows them to be viewed by anyone who couldn’t attend the live event, like students who have to work or their families who couldn’t attend. (For example: I was able to share my Junior Recital with my family and friends because the link has been archived on YouTube.) 

It also allows for future students to understand their expectations — high schoolers can watch graduating seniors’ recitals and get a sense of how they’ll be expected to play. It’s also a good promotional tool — who doesn’t like to show off how well their students can perform? For all these reasons, I think we should keep livestreaming and archiving events, and I think we should consider livestreaming and archiving more events, like theatre shows and student activities.

Having Events Outdoors

Again, music major bias, but as things have been warming up the music department has been holding more events outside. For example, last night A-State Choirs held a concert outside under the tent between the math building and the library. The choirs (which I am a part of) have been practicing under that tent since March, and it’s been good to get that hour outside. As restrictions lift and we are allowed to have events indoors again, I hope we still choose to hold some of them outside.

These Did Not Spark Joy

Wearing Masks…Constantly

Masks have done us good, they’ve kept us safe, and they’ve covered my worst acne zones for the last year. However, I’m ready to be able to walk around outside this summer without my entire face sweating. I’m ready to breathe cool September morning air. I’m ready to be able to sing, and talk to people, without my words being muffled. And most of all, I’m ready for people to be able to recognize me, or at least use the correct pronouns for me at first sight.

Closed Restaurants/Stores

I completely understand why restaurants and stores have closed or changed their hours during the pandemic, and I support them 100%. But for petty, personal reasons, I’m ready for them to reopen. It’s already hard enough to find places to eat late at night without most of them being closed or not offering indoor dining. But also, I wanna go to Walmart at 2 a.m. again.

People Being Openly Terrible

COVIDiots. Karens. Anti-maskers. Whatever you call them, these confrontational jerks have been terrorizing employees and innocent bystanders since COVID-19 guidelines and mandates were first put in place. Once everything goes back to normal, they’ll be able to hide their behaviors for the most part, which sucks, but at least employees will no longer have to fear anti-maskers in their workplaces.

Pretending “Normal” Was “Good”

You thought this whole article was gonna be about acne and Zoom calls? Nah.

Let’s face it: Normal wasn’t working. Normal allowed for the exploitation and oppression of minorities, the disabled and neurodivergent communities and the LGBTQ community. It allowed for an oppressive work culture where staying home from work because of an illness was frowned upon, where doing work from home was “not possible.” The pandemic proved that working from home is possible, that accommodations for those with illnesses like COVID-19 are possible. Being online allowed for a greater spread of causes like Black Lives Matter and Stop AAPI Hate, and allowed more people to gain awareness of disabilities, neurodivergencies and genders and sexualities. We watched George Floyd’s case and shared his picture everywhere, along with many other people of color whose lives were unjustly taken. We fought against bills in our own state legislature that discriminated against trans people. People learned, people grew, and to abandon all of that once we return to normal is to have learned nothing.

Do not let these causes die out just because you have to go to class in-person now. Black lives matter. Asian lives matter. Disabled lives matter. Neurodivergent lives matter. LGBTQ lives matter. If you’ve spent this last year never looking outside your mask and these causes have gone past you, work to change that. Whether masked or not, let your voice ring clearly.

Normal was never good. Normal led us to an era of political unrest, of global warming, of unease and hate. As we return to “normal” we should work to change what “normal” is, and change it for the better.

Categories: Opinion

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