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The New Normal? For the Time Being, Yes

by David Engle | Mar 24, 2020 | 5 min read

Only about 2 weeks ago, I wrote about how COVID-19 (the coronavirus) had made its way to the United States and how schools were preparing to handle the possibility of closures and alternate plans for learning. I wrote that there had been, to that point, 137 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths. I wrote that 14 states had confirmed positive cases. Oh, how I long for those days.

In less than two weeks, those numbers have exploded–as of this writing, in the U.S. there have been 46,168 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 582 fatalities, and all 50 states with confirmed cases. And by tomorrow, those numbers will have increased even more. Schools across the country are closing indefinitely, with some turning to online learning and others not entirely sure how to proceed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that all in-person events and gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled or postponed. Many cities have already closed bars and restaurants in an effort to enforce “social distancing.” For now, and possibly the foreseeable future, this is our new normal.

So, how do you prepare and adjust for the new normal? Unfortunately we don’t have a whole lot of relevant experience to draw upon. But a few things we can expect (or already know):

  • Kids who are not usually homeschooling…well, they will be in some way, shape, or form. For how long, no one can be sure, but if you’re not homeschooling, now’s the time to make backup plans for both child care and education. Many schools are already implementing “remote learning”, in which students get their assignments online (usually via Google Classroom or a similar setup) and complete them by assigned due dates. Most teachers are available to contact via phone and email during regular school hours. If you are homeschooling (hopefully with Bridgeway Academy!), you’re way ahead of the game. Keep doing what you’re doing, and make sure to stay in touch with your advisors as needed. If your child is enrolled in live classes, make sure to communicate with the instructor to ensure all classes are operating as usual.
  • There may not be a whole lot to do. With bars and restaurants already closing in some areas, and sports leagues, concerts, conventions, and public places like zoos shut down, there are fewer options as far as entertainment. Some movie theaters remain open, but many are only selling to half capacity in order to implement the six-foot social distancing recommendation. In areas where bars and restaurants haven’t yet closed, many are adopting the same types of half-capacity measures. There’s just not as much to do right now. So, use this time to truly reconnect with the family. Break out some board games, head out on a hike, read stories to the kids, make some popcorn and have a family movie night. While our entertainment options are certainly more limited, there is still ample opportunity to make the best of your time at home.
  • The economy will struggle for a while. It’s inevitable during chaotic times such as these. The markets have plunged in response to the global crisis, particularly after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero for the first time since the market crash of 2008. With more and more businesses closing their doors (at least temporarily), workers are losing wages…or even worse, their jobs. There will be less consumer spending as many stores remain closed. The economy will recover…it always does. It just may be rough going for a little while.
  • Hospitals and doctors’ offices will be at maximum capacity for the foreseeable future. As more and more positive coronavirus cases are confirmed, hospitals and medical campuses will be flooded with new patients. Most doctors’ offices are taking precautionary measures for patients who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms such as having them remain in their cars upon arriving at the office and calling once they’re parked; thereby reducing potential exposure to other patients in the waiting room. Despite these preventive measures, if you have a “well” appointment scheduled with a doctor (a routine exam, physical, perhaps pain from an injury), it might be a good idea to hold off and reschedule it in order to avoid the waiting room entirely.
  • The stores (that are open) may have limited stock. We already know that hand soap and sanitizer are hard to come by since the coronavirus hit…but other items are in noticeably short supply. I went to the local supermarket yesterday for a few things, and I felt like I was in one of those apocalyptic zombie/virus outbreak movies. The bread and cereal shelves were picked clean. There was no chicken to be found anywhere. Toilet paper? Ha. The juice aisle was half-stocked, frozen vegetables were gone, egg and milk cases were sparse. While I don’t think grocery stores and pharmacies will reach The Walking Dead-like conditions, there may be a period of time before stores are able to fully catch up on the demand for products and be able to completely replenish their shelves.
  • Keeping your distance from people will be strange. Most people’s first instinct upon seeing friends or family is a hug or a kiss or a handshake. Unfortunately, that’s not advisable right now. During this pandemic, social distancing is a must. It might sound like the buzzword of the day, but social distancing makes complete sense if the end goal is to contain this virus. The CDC recommends keeping a minimum of six feet away from others (not including those in your home) to help reduce the likelihood of transmission. Other forms of social distancing include working from home whenever possible, avoiding public transportation, and keeping away from places with large groups of people or surfaces that are easily contaminated (malls, movie theaters, restaurants, museums). This is probably the most effective way (along with plenty of hand washing) to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

These are strange times, unlike any we’ve ever seen before. These last couple weeks (and especially days) have been alternately surreal, scary, crazy, and like something out of Hollywood. This is uncharted territory for everyone, so this new normal is something we all need to get accustomed to since we don’t know when the old normal will return. In the meantime, the best course of action is to take all the recommended measures to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Help out others in need when possible, but still try to maintain your distance. Monetary and food donations are great ways to help–from afar. Try to stay entertained…yes, our options are much more limited, but there are still plenty of things to do. Read some books you’ve been meaning to get to. Binge-watch Netflix or Amazon Prime. Play games. Get outside and ride a bike, take a walk, or shoot some hoops. Have your kids interact with friends by using FaceTime or Skype; they can also play video games together but from different homes.

And keep your kids’ education top of mind. If you’re already homeschooling, keep up the great work! If you’re not, Bridgeway Academy offers a wide range of options to keep your children on track with their studies, not left behind. Check out the rest of our website, or give us a call at (800) 863-1474. We’re here to help.

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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