Sunday, May 23, 2021

Back to Normal?

The spring semester included many of the same precautions as last fall.  Social distancing, masks, and some online classes.  Last week, all that changed in Oklahoma.  Nearly every major University announced new guidelines which included no masks on campus for vaccinated individuals (some campuses no masks at all) and no social distancing in classrooms.  The message is go back to normal, but is that possible?  Should we?

I am having trouble describing my feeling with the sudden back to normal message.  Many summer classes are following the new protocols.  The message seems to ignore 18 months of tragedy that changed the way we delivered education and interacted with the world.  We should turn the clock back to 2019 and proceed as if the pandemic never happened.  Businesses and schools seem to be in a rush to claim everything is normal.  I am not sure the community members feel the same way.

I cannot speak for those who experienced unimaginable tragedy the past year.  However, I can imagine some feeling the sudden dismantling of the vast majority of regulations as ignoring the last 18 months.  The sudden change doesn't feel sympathetic to our communities.  I also believe the insatiable drive to be back to normal ignores progress we made delivering education.  We should take advantage of new innovations.  We can use the new tools to help students learn.  Within our Universities, the message should be to utilize the best forms of all the delivery methods to reach all our students.  Some students thrived over the last 18 months.  We should help them continue to thrive by teaching them how to use their new forms of learning in their "normal" classes.  They shouldn't go back to former ineffective techniques.  We should help others get back to their better studying techniques because they didn't do as well.  They will also require help recalling what worked best prior to last fall.  Students and professors will need time process how to proceed going forward.  

The pandemic affected everyone, but ASPers can be at the forefront of the transition to a new normal.  You will help some people cope with what happened over the past year.  You will help others try to utilize those great new study techniques.  Faculty may ask you how to integrate new technology or teaching techniques into classes.  The last year was extremely hard on students, so ASPers will be tasked with helping those catch up to be ready for the bar exam.  ASP can and will be at every step of the oncoming transition.  

The last 15 months has affected everyone in a myriad of ways.  No one experienced the pandemic the same.  Everyone will need a little different help, and ASPers (all of us) have the unique opportunity to impact people.  We can help individuals and entire communities.  Also know, that we (all of us) will also need similar help transitioning back to our jobs.  I encourage everyone to do 3 things.  Help your law school community, help other ASPers in your state/region, and seek out help from someone in your area.  For some, the change will come fast.  Let's all seek the help we need so we can keep helping others.

(Steven F0ster)

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