After COVID-19

March 13th was the day that everything changed for me and a lot of other people in my community. I didn’t know that would be the last day of school or the last day I would see my teachers and friends. I didn’t know that just the next week, California would go into a lockdown state and remain in it for months on end. I didn’t think that would be the last day of my normal life.

But now, due to COVID-19, this is our normal.

However peculiar it may seem to us right now, this quarantine will one day – hopefully sooner rather than later, but only once it is safe to – come to an end. After that, our old lives cannot just simply resume as if nothing has changed. A new normal will arise, one where social distancing, cleanliness and shifting mindsets will likely persist.

Precautions taken during this pandemic regarding social distancing will feasibly continue into the near future so as to prevent a second wave of the virus. While some may seem pedantic for healthy young adults – such as waiting in lines six feet apart – these preventative measures were put in place to protect us and those around us who may be older or at-risk.

Many of these efforts should continue long past COVID-19, however, just in a less intense way. For instance, by shopping only when it is essential we not only decrease the chance of infections, but we also reduce our carbon emissions by not driving and decrease our typically high food waste and plastic consumption. This benefits our environment and the pollution rates around the world, as we’ve seen with shrinking smog in major cities and restored species in places they were thought extinct.

One regulation that will most likely continue into the foreseeable future – at least in high density population areas – is the requirement of masks or face coverings in public. In LA county, face coverings are encouraged and most establishments require them in order to enter the business. This, as well as increased cleanliness by routinely washing hands and surfaces, should persist until the number of new cases significantly drops in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

An aspect that needs to be reconsidered following this pandemic is school attendance. While WHS’s attendance policy states that an absence is excused if the student is sick, many individual teachers have consequences for missing class which negatively impact grades, including receiving a zero for participation. Moreover, while some teachers allow students the required time to complete assignments when absent, others expect the work and make-up tests to be completed almost immediately upon returning to school.

This causes students to feel anxious about missing school even when they are truly sick, meaning that they attend anyways so as to not miss work. The added stress over absences directly jeopardizes the health of ill students and healthy ones around them, since they could spread their illness to others. Hopefully, this pandemic will have provided an insight to teachers with strict absence policies so that they can protect not only their students but also themselves by revising their rules.

One factor that will ideally remain after quarantine is a shift in mindset. Personally, I’ve come to realize the things that really matter to me through this difficult time, such as my family and the safety and health of those around me. Many people have also realized that some things aren’t as important as we used to think they were, including sport and other extracurricular commitments that can cause significant amounts of stress.

I used to find myself putting school and sports over my own health and well-being, which I’ve realized is a less than optimal coping mechanism. However, during this pandemic, I’ve come to understand what truly matters in my life and community. On this idea, a few things that I hope will continue as normal societal functions are protecting elderly or at-risk individuals and supporting small or local businesses.

Moreover, as a society we are a very image-focussed population. With social media influencers, celebrities and manipulating advertisements, it can honestly be difficult to not become focussed on your external image. But due to the lack of going out brought by quarantine, many have realized the foolishness of being self-conscious about the way they look, which I hope will last long into the future.

While there are many things I wish to last from quarantine, there are also many more aspects of my old life that I hope will resume. From school to hanging out with friends and family, there are a multitude of social factors that I hope will restart only when it is safe to. Personally, my family is pretty spread across the world, with most of it being concentrated in the UK, and it’s really difficult to not be able to catch a plane and spend time with them in person. 

Until it is safe to, however, Zoom calls will have to suffice.