The last year and a half of school has been tough on everyone, from students, to parents, to faculty, but now that vaccines are rolling out, what can we expect for school life after COVID?
The first thing that could happen, to the dismay of students, is a reform on snowdays. Now that we have services such as Zoom, it’s possible that instead of having the school day off, students will sign into classes from home. Students will definitely object to this, seeing as they’d be robbed out of a day off school, but would ultimately be happier come June when they get out a week or two earlier because of the lack of snow days. We already saw this a bit this year, where we got a lot of snow but never got a day off because of it. Since we all were virtually learning at the time, the school saw no reason to give us days off. It wouldn’t be surprising if this is the way the school decided to go moving forward.
Even outside of snow days, schools could remain more online than they ever were before COVID. COVID has forced every teacher to learn how to use services like Google Classroom and they had to do all of their grading online this year. There’s a good chance that this continues in the future, particularly with teachers who have gotten the hang of it and prefer it over doing everything by hand. A benefit to doing this is that work can be graded a lot quicker over Google Classroom than it tends to be able to by hand. Will all work end up being online? Doubtful, but it’s highly likely that most of it will be simply because of how much easier it can be to grade online.
It’s also possible that the schedule will end up changing permanently. It’s been over a year since we were on the old schedule, and since then we’ve experienced both completely virtual and hybrid schedules. Depending on if both students and faculty prefer a similar schedule to what we have now, a new schedule could end up being created that’s similar to what we have now. Obviously, we’ll be in school a lot more than we are now, but it really wouldn’t be surprising if a semi-hybrid schedule is incorporated into the normal schedule at some point. Given how the classes seem to be getting bigger and bigger by the year, the school may benefit from keeping some students at home, learning virtually, over having everyone in school at the same time everyday. As for after school activities, in-person clubs will most likely come back if we go back to school full time. There’s not much of a reason to keep clubs virtual if students will already be back in school. I also see celebrations like Prom coming back. After two years of not having Junior or Senior Proms, everyone will likely be looking forward to getting back to that tradition next year.
With that being said, it’s doubtful that masks remain mandatory in-school in the coming years. During the Vaccine Seminar held on May 6th, it was mentioned that it’s possible COVID becomes similar to the flu, where it’s recommended to get vaccinated yearly. As for whether vaccines will be mandatory, signs are currently pointing to them not being required. While nothing has been made official yet by the government, when asked if vaccines would be mandatory for students, Dr. Parella responded: “No you will not need to get it [the vaccine] to come back to school.” It’s important to note that, according to Dr. Gallucci, “We [school administration] do not make the decisions, we follow what the CDC advises.” It’s possible that students will end up being required to get vaccinated, if it’s what the CDC advises, but as of right now there are no plans to require it. It really wouldn’t be surprising if at some point the government requires vaccines for schools, considering how close students get to each other especially during things like lunch and gym classes, but right now nothing’s certain.
What’s certain about life after COVID is that it won’t be the same as life before. While life may get very close to what it was before, there will still be differences stemming from what we’ve learned over the past year and a half. Things like being online more and having less people in the building at a time might end up being the first of many changes in our daily lives, especially if COVID turns out to be similar to the flu, where it’s recommended to get vaccinated yearly due to new strains. It’s good to keep in mind that nobody can predict the future completely accurately, but it’s possible that life before COVID will become the “old normal,” as we enter into a new normal life, laced with everything we’ve learned from life in quarantine.