Welcoming the ‘New’ New Normal



As students, many of whom have been virtual the whole or part of this past year, flood back to the city to make their mark, we must remember that COVID-19 is still among us. As the pandemic has carried on, the general acknowledgment of its severity has diminished. We have written about the importance of COVID-related safety precautions before, but this fall semester is different in multiple ways, with the emergence of the Delta variant, an increased number of people on campus and the vaccine mandate. There is an understandable urge to try to return to “normal life,” but the threat has not yet passed. 

It’s imperative that we carefully weigh the risks as we decide where we will go, what events we will attend and what our boundaries will be, considering how easily the Delta variant can spread. We must take preventative action against COVID-19 outbreaks in order to keep New York City alive and thriving, as well as to give students the chance to make the most of their college experience. 

In Lincoln Center’s surrounding neighborhood, 82.4% of the population has been vaccinated, but in Rose Hill’s surrounding neighborhood, only 50.2% of the population has been vaccinated. These numbers are not yet high enough to keep everyone safe. With the Delta variant being twice as infectious as all previous strains, this is not a time for life to return to a pre-pandemic normal.

Although we might have hoped for a “normal” semester, wearing a mask is undeniably one of the best preventive measures against another spike on campus — that is, if we all follow it.

Although many vaccinated individuals traded wearing masks for stringing them around their wrists or tucking them into a pocket, it is now suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks indoors and keep gatherings small. Fordham has followed this advice by requiring all faculty, staff and students to wear a mask indoors on campus. This guidance, therefore, applies to classroom settings and social settings elsewhere. 

We may often make fun of the slogan, but it is true that New York City is our campus. The Fordham community is large and diverse — it includes people within residence halls and surrounding neighborhoods, students, faculty, and staff — all of whom come into contact with many communities and commute from neighborhoods across the city. All of these people are impacted by the choices of Fordham students. Taking certain precautions is our responsibility as students in New York City. 

Students two springs ago remember the panic and anxiety they felt as they packed up their belongings and left campus practically overnight, and plenty can also recall the stress of being quarantined on or off campus due to an exposure. Three semesters have already been online, so we want to be as responsible as possible to prevent outbreaks and a return to online classes.

Fordham’s mask mandate reminds us that despite previous counteractive measures such as online classes and vaccinations, the pandemic is still happening. Although we might have hoped for a “normal” semester, wearing a mask is undeniably one of the best preventive measures against another spike on campus — that is, if we all follow it. 

The administration plans on having all students return at full capacity, making it even more necessary to exercise every precaution. This past year, a spike in positive cases on the Rose Hill campus led to a suspension of on-campus activities, and with less open space and our campus at full capacity, we could very well see the same response to a spike at Lincoln Center. 

Doing the right thing isn’t always simple, and it is easy to want this all to be over. Fortunately, we know the solution, even if it isn’t comfortable. Restrictions like wearing masks and keeping gatherings small work well, as evidenced by the low number of cases on the Lincoln Center campus over the past year. Booster shots to help fight against the Delta variant may be available soon, but even then, we need to move forward with the community’s health in mind.

After three semesters apart, Fordham University has brought us all back together, and with a little dedication, we can make sure it stays that way.