Our new normal

Starting Sept. 8, FMU will officially resume classes on campus. This is exciting news for many students, as it symbolizes a promising first step toward normalcy. However, reopening the university may not be as normal as some hope.

As many other institutions have recently discovered, precautions taken by administration on-campus are rendered useless if students do not maintain such vigilance off-campus. An example of this would be in late August when North Carolina State University (NCSU) announced that all classes would transition online due to ever-increasing clusters of COVID-19 in the area. Initially, this may seem like just another unpredictable event; however, NCSU’s first coronavirus warning indicates that there may have been a more preventable cause. Originating from an off-campus housing location, it was suggested that a party was held at the residence, triggering a quick spread of the virus. This is just one of many coronavirus clusters that started in this way.

The reason this matters to us is, just like NCSU, we have an administration that puts an immense amount of time and effort into planning policies to help keep students safe. However, the fact is, it doesn’t matter how many safeguards are in place if we don’t follow a level of personal responsibility outside of school.

Some believe that contracting COVID-19 will just be a minor inconvenience, adopting the “if it happens, it happens” mentality. The issue with this thought process is that it doesn’t take into account the impact such behavior will have on others. Besides the fact that they could potentially contract the virus, they could also unknowingly carry it to some of their closest friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, not all COVID-19 cases are caused by reckless behavior, as accidents do still happen. However, because of the careless actions of a small group of students, many universities have transitioned online for the fall semester, essentially penalizing others who may not have been involved in the original issue at all.     

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a social life. In fact, there are plenty of ways to be careful while also spending time with people. Fortunately for us, the disease doesn’t spread as easily outdoors as they do indoors, which helps create options for getting together safely. There are many ways that we can meet with people, given a little bit of creativity and conscious thought. Personally, I think picnicking is a really fun and safe way to get food with a few friends while also enjoying beautiful scenery. I’ve also found that going on walks or riding a bike is a great way to spend time with someone while also relieving stress through activity.

Though it may feel at times like this pandemic will never end, the truth is that it is only temporary, especially if safety guidelines are followed. It may not be the most ideal situation, but it is possible to wade through the pool of uncertainty and find a way to adapt. The most important thing in all of this is that we follow a certain standard of caution when dealing with social gatherings. If we want to remain on campus this semester, we have to hold ourselves accountable for maintaining the safety of others. Life may not return to normal right away, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find our new normal.