Because of the pandemic, Elmhurst University sought many changes in order to keep the institution functioning while also keeping everyone safe. EU is already looking to open up further in the fall; however, some protocols should stay in place in a post-COVID-19 world to further ensure the success of the campus community.
One of the most profound changes EU underwent over the last year was how courses were taught. New technology to support online learning was installed in classrooms.
Hopefully in a post-COVID-19 world, people will not be expected to be in public places while they are feeling sick. Keeping this technology integrated into classes will allow for students to still attend class while under the weather and not face attendance penalties or miss out on class content.
Students may have other circumstances that make it difficult to get to campus at times, so having a continuous online option could make it so no class time has to be sacrificed when life happens.
COVID-19 also made online events a lot more common across campus. Keeping an aspect of streaming and events online would make students all the more involved on-campus.
Similarly, recording events can help include a large part of the campus community that cannot usually make events because of their schedules.
Much of the campus community were forced to become experts in programs such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. While it will eventually be nice to be able to meet with others in person again, these programs can still be greatly utilized and even be more convenient at times. For example, professors keeping an option for virtual office hours will keep them overall more accessible to students to be able to pop in from wherever they are to ask a question or get some help.
Having online resources will act as great supplementary materials in making a great university experience. In addition to this, some changes to the physical campus environment can be beneficial to keep around as well.
The pandemic has overall exposed how uncleanly some of our human habits were pre-pandemic. Hence, keeping hand sanitizer and other cleaning materials accessible all around campus will never be a bad thing and help enforce further cleanliness.
If it can be supported feasibly, having areas on-campus be cleaned more often than they were pre-pandemic can also greatly help the campus community. While many people will be vaccinated in the near future, we are still living alongside COVID-19 and other diseases, so any more layers of protection will always be helpful.
The behaviors of the human population overall has ultimately been altered as a result of the pandemic. Some people may no longer be comfortable going to events or locations with many other people.
This is not to say that the campus should not support large scale events when it is safe to do so. Rather, it should continue to keep in mind the long-term effects of the pandemic and be empathetic to those changes.
One example of something that could be kept around, in this regard, is continuing to offer to-go options in the cafeteria. Everyone knows how busy the cafe gets at rush times, so keeping these options could allow those who wish to do so to eat their food elsewhere. Continuing to encourage spreading out more in general can be another healthy practice we as a society keep because of the pandemic.
It can go without saying that living with the pandemic has been awful and by no means ideal. However, we cannot ignore the fact that COVID-19 dramatically altered the climate of our culture.
We may be excited as a campus community to go back to EU experience we have been missing out on for over a year; however, it will be a new kind of normal. We, as a campus community, must adapt and reap the benefits of what COVID-19 has shown us.