By Avo Reid ‘22 News reporter
On October 1, the Mercersburg community gathered in person for the first time as a whole body – a huge accomplishment in itself. A little less than a month before, when students arrived on campus, they said a fleeting goodbye to their parents before being ushered to their rooms and closing the doors. Hello! This is your roommate. Meals will be delivered; you’ll be let out twice a day for twenty minutes. See you in a week.
As promised, a week later, the students were turned loose. The restrictions in place didn’t seem to matter – compared to the view out of dorm room windows, the rest of campus seemed like a whole new world. Other people! Classes! Sports! As the euphoria subsided, though, the remaining restrictions came into clear view. Many things were realized, such as how infuriating it is to have to sit six feet apart from the friends you’ve been waiting to see for months, and how hard it is to sprint wearing a mask. Gathering on the football field, albeit in physically distanced groups, felt like another giant leap for mankind.
The field was abuzz with conversation – the day before, word got out that an announcement would be made about relaxing the restrictions. Rumors ranged from “no masks” to “we’re going home.” The truth of it was not as extreme either hoped or feared but came as a welcome respite. Student Council President Ryan Bland ‘21 and Vice President Matthew Tavarez ‘22 made the announcements: students, when outside and wearing masks, will be allowed to be within six feet of each other. When outside and alone, they may take their masks off. Contact during sports will resume during PGAs. And finally, when in your dorm circle, masks may be off and you may have circle visitors in your rooms.
While maybe not as dramatic as the transition out of quarantine, these downshifts in restrictions have changed the way that all students live their lives. Everyone knew this year would be marred by the virus – they knew it when they agreed to return to campus. Total normalcy was impossible from the outset. But, as the year has progressed, the cliché “new normal” has taken on added meaning. Putting on a mask in the morning has grown to feel as natural as brushing your teeth. Students have become accustomed to eating and hanging out outside rather than in each other’s dorms. The loosening of restrictions has only added to this feeling – the feeling of being in a place, together, without the shadow of COVID-19 darkening everything that happens. e
Life doesn’t feel as it did before – it might never feel that way again. But, in a way, it feels normal. It feels natural. And, in today’s world, what more can you ask for?