UK celebrates one-way road to freedom in June

The new normal: All schools in England will reopen on 8 March.

Is "back to normal" the right thing to hope for? As the world looks hopefully towards the end of the pandemic, some are asking if now is the time to start building a new normality.

It was the announcement everybody wanted: the “roadmap” out of lockdown. On 8 March, schools reopen; restaurants from 12 April, from 21 June, removal of all restrictions.

It seems we are taking steps to normality.

But “back to normal” does not just mean parties and football. It means school and office.

Lockdown has been a time warp. If the end of this year returns old routines, it might be disappointing.

Some think we should use the opportunity to create a better world. What big changes might stay?

School: many teachers find online teaching stressful. It does offer tools not available in a classroom. Students might benefit from remote technology to learn wherever they are.

Office: last year, 90% of workers said they wanted to work from home some of the time. Businesses that pay eye-watering rents are keen.

Health: the pandemic has been a course in epidemiology. They might wear masks during flu season, which could save lives. The pandemic has spurred healthcare reforms.

Climate: global carbon emissions fell by 7%.

Society: governments spent to keep economies afloat, without obvious damage. Some think this is the return of Big Government.

Geopolitics: the pandemic has created more international cooperation.

Some think we should embrace this post-pandemic world.

Others think a dose of normality is what we need.

Is “back to normal” the right thing to hope for?

Paranormal activity

Yes. The pandemic has been traumatic. People need to feel they have their lives back: that they can do the things they love doing. A huge change in how we live could devastate some.

No. However difficult the lockdowns are, most people have experimented with new ways of living and found they like them. The best way of rebuilding will be to grasp the opportunity to rethink the way we do things.

You Decide

  1. What is the first thing you will do once all the restrictions are lifted?

Activities

  1. Write down three things you would change about your school once the pandemic is over.

Some People Say...

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.”

Rumi (1207 – 1273), Persian poet

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Most people agree that modern working habits are historically very unusual. Until the 19th Century, almost everyone “worked from home”: they would live on and farm their own land, or live above the shop that they owned, or make textiles in their own home. Commuting only became the norm when businesses set up factories and offices so they could keep tabs on the work their employees were doing. Working from home means going back to a much older “normal”.
What do we not know?
There is some debate over whether or not we can mentally “return to normal”. For a year now, we have trained ourselves to wash our hands, keep our distance from others, avoid touching our faces and surfaces around us. Some think that since these habits are inconvenient, we will quickly shed them once we no longer have any need for them. But others think the mental block against being indoors with other people, coming close to them, hugging them, might last much longer.

Word Watch

Time warp
When time seems to travel at a faster or slower rate than usual. The idea has a scientific basis: the faster an object is travelling, the slower time passes for it.
Eye-watering
An adjective that describes a figure or amount that it extremely high or large.
Epidemiology
The study of health and disease. It comes from the Greek epidemia, meaning “what happens to a people”.
Big Government
A government that takes an active role in the economy, funding a generous welfare state.

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