After two whole years of practically staying in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be time for us to come to terms with the fact that we have to start preparing for a return to a “normal” life.
We have already done this for two full years and it doesn’t make sense anymore to do the same thing for one more year so as we expect the world to start fully opening up, we will have mentally, emotionally and physically preparing ourselves to go back to work and school in the real world.
The best form of preparation is vaccination because that is our safest form of protection from the coronavirus. Those of us who have already taken that vital step are already more or less prepared to step back into the real world. The unvaxxed who feel like they don’t need the jab to be protected will make it a little bit difficult for us to achieve herd immunity as soon as we can but as long as we have majority, we can probably leave them to fend for themselves in their own special ways.
As the infectious Omicron wave that we are experiencing has shown, even the vaccinated can still be infected, albeit with a lesser chance of getting severe symptoms or death, but after wasting 2 years of our lives stuck at home, it doesn’t seem like we can still wait for the perfect vaccine to come along. The scientific development of vaccines and cures for COVID is still ongoing and while we can be confident that in due time we will be more protected or that the disease will be more easily treatable, it doesn’t seem like we are going to wait for that moment.
Preparing for the world to open up means coming to terms that our children are going to be going back to face-to-face school in real campuses, probably by the time the new schoolyear opens. Vaccinated or not, throwing our kids back into the world must still be a scary thought that most of us have not yet considered thinking about. However, it is something we have to prepare for.
Online schooling might continue to be the thing, or some kind of hybrid system could be part of the new normal, but it doesn’t seem like we can stay this way forever and this is the probably year things will change. The school system will change and that change will be difficult for many of us. Aside from the added risks and exposure that going to school entails, there will be changes in schedule and classroom capacity that could make logistics difficult. Parents who cannot trust the public transportation system or school “buses” will have to find the resources to get their kids to school and back home as safely as possible.
As the world opens up and so do schools, greater demands from work will also start popping up. While work from home will still be an option and be part of the new normal, more contact with the outside world will be required. This is a natural side effect of the world opening up. If kids can go back to school, so should adults go back to work. We will have to ditch our beloved loungewear and relearn the basics of post-pandemic office fashion. Schedules will probably be more flexible than before, but the adjustment period will be tough, especially for those with kids in school who will also most likely have weird and flexible schedules.
Employers, employees, students, teachers and school administrators will all have to relearn how to do things as safely as possible. Anyone who doesn’t feel well will be sent home immediately and we will all have to put in place our own systems to make our new normals work. Can they go home via public transport or will they have to be picked up by parents? Can parents just leave the home or physical office to attend to those concerns? How will schedules be arranged and matched, especially for families with working parents and kids in different grade levels?
As much as we want to go back to a new normal, we have to face the truth that there is still a lot of adjustment to do. COVID has changed our life permanently and we can’t just go back to our pre-COVID routines and lifestyles. We all have to work together to come up with a system that allows life to move on as seamlessly as possible. The people running the departments of labor and education are going to be crucial as we adapt to the new normal because the post-COVID world is going to be a totally whole new one.
The good news is that whether we are ready or not, the new normal is coming. The bad news is that it may not be the normal we thought it would be. There are going to be a lot of changes and as the stakeholders, we are going to have to make our voices heard if those changes are going to lead us to a better place and lifestyle.*