COVID-19 Protocols Past vs. Present: What has changed and what has remained the same?

Two students do homework sitting six feet apart.

December 2019 was the first but certainly not the last time in which the name of a new virus outbreak had begun to spread around the world. COVID-19 also referred to as the coronavirus. 

The first cases were detected in Wuhan, China when numerous patients began to experience shortness of breath and fever.

The virus reached the United States in January 2020, affecting the way in which people lived life as they normally had.

No task in anyone’s daily life was to be the same for the foreseeable future, and that still applies for most of society today.

One of the major systems that was impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic was and still is, the education system.

Quincy University has introduced various protocols for the pandemic that have been set in place, and up to today some of them are still relevant as ever. 

This could change however at the end of the week of February 21, 2022. JB Pritzker, governor of Illinois, is set to address the media on possible changes or different procedures for the coronavirus pandemic moving forward. 

When the pandemic first started all students at QU were instructed to return home and switch to remote, online learning to continue taking classes.

When students returned to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, classes were back in person but the 6-foot social distancing and mask mandate rules were in effect.  

 Blaine Lowrance enrolled at QU as a freshman in 2020. Lowrance had to end his high school career and start his college career during the pandemic.

“Graduating in a pandemic was already enough of a joke in itself, remote learning was near impossible for the same experience as in person classes to be achieved, and now learning and trying to teach in a controlled environment based on numbers of students in a class is abysmal in my mind,”Lowrance said.

“Do I ever think the in person learning experience will return to normal? Yes, however I don’t foresee it happening in the near future,” Lowrance said.

Classrooms are not the only place on campus where the effects of the pandemic are apparent. 

When going into the dining halls to eat meals, a mask must be worn at all times when walking around, ordering food and drink, and anytime in which a person is not sitting down eating or drinking. 

“At the start of my sophomore year (2020 Fall) compared to my junior year (Fall 2021) the mandate and rules remained the same in The Cafe, but it seemed like through time people just kinda stopped caring basically. They still harp on you at the entrance for masks now but right after that it seems everyone is taking them off and not caring about them right after that, even some of the workers too,” Jared Shulin said. 

Students enjoying a meal in The Cafe

During the 2020-2021 school year, students were refused entrance to The Cafe if they were not wearing a mask.

The Cafe decided to update and enforce this masking mandate for the 2021-2022 school year. They offered to charge a two dollar fee for students to purchase a mask in order to enter if they did not have one.

“On paper the minor charge for a mask is a good reminder for people to bring one when going there, but half the time I see people walk in without one and they don’t get charged, but then others do. It’s jacked up,” Shulin said. 

Athletics was another department of the university in which the pandemic rules and mandates impacted many activities.

QU basketball player Alexis Wolfe remembered what her freshman season looked like during the middle of the pandemic.

“I remember my freshman year when we were having to wear masks when we were out of drills in practice, then when it came to game time whether you were playing or on the bench the masks had to be worn the whole time,” Wolfe said. “From the outdoor sports I watched it seemed they didn’t have to do the same, which I found very odd only having indoor sports wear them. I am just glad for this season (2021-2022) we no longer have to wear them for practice or games.”

The future for mandates and rules for the pandemic is still uncertain in the overall quest for achieving “normal”. But who really knows what normal is anymore. 

The pandemic has affected all aspects of life, and as long as new variants continue to pop up, the mandates alongside of them will do the same. 

How universities and QU, specifically, will deal with changes remains uncertain.

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