Effects of COVID in “Normalized” America


An empty State Street reflects our current times Courtesy of Crain’s Chicago Business

Lillian Kibby

A year ago, if you had walked down a street in Chicago with everyone wearing masks, standing 6 feet apart, and bumping elbows, you would have thought you had been transported to an alternate reality. However, that and many other drastic lifestyle and societal changes have become the new normal. One of the most significant things about Covid-19 is that many of the changes that were implemented, even the most resisted ones, will have a long-lasting effect on education, work, travel, and leisure.

One example that greatly affects Ignatius students in particular is the vast majority of American students that are learning remotely. While this hopefully isn’t a permanent fixture of American education, it does allow for some flexibility when it comes to vacation, snow days, sick days, and difficult commutes. Unexpected snow days were some of the happiest memories of childhood. Few things were more fun than hearing you had no school. However, now that remote learning is in effect, snow days as we know them are likely over. On the other hand, a welcome change at Ignatius due to COVID is the later start time. There has been talk amongst students and teachers about retaining the 9am start time after the pandemic has passed: students are often more attentive and teachers have more time before school to prepare.

Another potential long-lasting impact of COVID is the conflict with standardized testing and college admissions. Colleges have been increasingly becoming test-optional for 2021 admissions. With the growing number of students unable to take standardized tests this year, colleges have determined the test-optional process was most fair. Now, it is in question if this is a pilot to see if standardized testing will be necessary for college admissions ever again. 

Another facet of life that could be fundamentally changed by this pandemic is travel, both daily commuting and leisure travel. This pandemic has demonstrated that people in some fields of the economy can complete their jobs remotely, which means you wouldn’t necessarily have to relocate for a job that could be completed at home. It is also plausible that masks will be worn on airplanes for the foreseeable future despite a potential vaccine to mitigate the spread of future infectious diseases across nations. It is difficult to fathom that seemingly unnecessary and inconvenient changes could become institutionalized; however, COVID will likely create long term changes in America and the world.