The Return to "Normalcy"

Elyssa Proulx

It has been 20 months since the world went into lockdown after COVID-19 was recognized as a global pandemic. As a result, what society recognizes as “normal” has evolved dramatically. One of the most significant adjustments for students has been the abrupt transition from in-person school to virtual learning. Some students have grown to appreciate the ease of attending school from anywhere, but there are undoubtedly benefits to live interaction as opposed to computer anonymity. Now that the prospects of being back in-person in the winter term are higher than ever, there has been a divide between those who are thrilled to return to school and those who are reluctant to abandon this virtual environment. Several factors play a role in how students feel about the shift in routine; issues such as the ease of recorded lectures, in-person exams, and the scramble to find housing have put many on the fence about whether to be excited or apprehensive about this change.

A common concern amongst students is the loss of the many advantages that come with attending class online. Online classes mean being able to wake up later, commute a shorter distance, and the comfort of knowing that any missed class is recorded and available for viewing later. On the flip side, however, some students have expressed that they would feel more compelled to attend class if it wasn’t recorded, and others believe this would encourage them to go to sleep earlier.

First-years and second-years have never experienced in-person exams at university. For third-years, they were around for a mere few months. Even for upper-year students, they have become a foreign concept over the past year and a half. Some argue that writing exams remotely provides a certain level of comfort as they can write it from the security of their home, often with an open book. Their opponents argue that proctors cause far more anxiety than in-person exams, and that writing in a lecture hall is part of the university experience.

Another cause for divide is the housing predicament that has become widespread for since students suddenly found out that school may return to in-person. Many placed bets earlier in the year on whether or not school would be online in the winter, and those who believed it would be did not search for housing in the summer. As a result, many of these students have found themselves in a mad scramble to find housing that responds to their needs, especially within a certain proximity to the university.

Whether we return to in-person classes next semester or not, it is clear that society is capable of adjusting to considerable changes. If students have been in-person in the past, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to be now!