Steady wins race toward post-pandemic life

As spring quarter nears, students are reminded of looming health concerns

Angela Ide, Opinions Editor

Illustration by Caitlyn Schnider

With spring quarter registration being completed this last week at Seattle Pacific University, students are starting to look to the quarter that they have rested their hopes upon. Now that we are finally arriving at nature’s rebirth, everyone needs to be careful of how they choose to run this marathon towards global healing.

It would be so easy to join in the yearly return of life and growth to the world around us that comes with every spring, but students, families, and friends alike will have to celebrate this season a little differently.

As cities and counties, such as King County, are slowly returning to phase two where people can sit in restaurants again and hair salons have reopened, there is a slight reprieve from the isolation of stay-at-home orders. In the spirit of spring, many are feeling the call of the world outside our doors more strongly than ever, but our world is still at risk of falling back into quarantine.

As many states found over the summer, restrictions and health requirements were softened for the sake of community and economy, but many forgot the heaviness of the situation and COVID cases skyrocketed. The privilege of socialization had to be revoked once again for the lives of those around us, and we started back at square one.  

We were reminded to just keep to the basics: maintain at least six feet of distance from others, always wear a face mask when we went out of the house, and if you feel symptoms, get tested. Right now, we just need to repeat these same fundamental steps.

When fall classes started again, they were either online or in hybrid formats. Winter quarter didn’t have better prospects with a vaccine unanticipated until December, so most students held out for spring. It was distant enough that no one could really predict what might happen, but it was close enough to hold onto.

Now we know that we still won’t get the spring quarter of our dreams; however, if we put the work in now, future seasons and celebrations await.

Currently, only some in-person classes are available, primarily classes are either fully online or hybrid formats. But hope has not died just yet. Making it out of this pandemic has always been a waiting game, and everyone has become experts at biding time.

Now that medical advances have been made and the vaccine is available and is administered to the most vulnerable, it feels like we’re done. We have a solution to our problem, but normalcy has far from arrived.

Because of the limited supply of the vaccine that is currently available, the threshold for herd immunity is still a long way away. Those most susceptible to death and suffering from COVID-19 are currently being given a defense, but that does not mean that there aren’t plenty of slightly less vulnerable people who are still unprotected.

Safety precautions can’t be left in our past until everyone is given a fair chance at a normal healthy life and when there is available care for those who need a little extra help. Just because we are reaching new milestones in this race doesn’t mean that we can pack it in and call it good. We do not have the luxury of throwing in the towel when we have made it this far.

Every race is just a process of taking one step at a time. We are getting closer to the promise of more normal social interactions and that should be our motivator; we just aren’t there yet.

Aesop’s tale of the tortoise and the hare teaches that only the arrogant and ignorant will count their victories before they’ve won them. Those willing to count their steps often find themselves finishing the race before they know it.

One quick, deep breath at a time, one determined step in front of the other, and the shining finish line in the unseeable distance dangle in front of us. Just think, soon masked interactions, muffled conversations and uncertain social connections slowly will be exchanged with joyous celebration, shouts of victories and comfort from loved ones.

One day, in the near future, we will be able to hold community celebrations without batting an eye. College students will flock back to coffee houses, study nooks, and party venues to make up for the lost time. Children will have sleepovers, school field trips, games to go to, and dates to ask to dances; and just maybe, we will walk out of this race stronger, wiser, and sooner than we thought possible all because we decided to steady our pace and keep our focus.

This race isn’t over, not by a long shot; but it gets closer with every careful step we take. Every mask, socially distant interaction, zoom call, and postponed plan allows the world to heal. Let us count down the milestones left together, one step at a time.