COVID-19 restrictions at Pacific University have changed ever since a vaccine was made available to the public. Masks for example have seen a decrease in usage, with students like athletes and actors receiving permission to remove them while performing. The UC has seen an increase in student attendance, once again becoming a place of interest. Another place on campus that has seen a population rise is the dorms, as students returned to on-campus housing. Perhaps the most visible change is in-person classes, as students and teachers once again share a learning space with each other, albeit with the usage of masks.

I believe that this decrease in restrictions has both positive and negative consequences. Loosening the COVID-19 rules has allowed the Pacific Ohana to reconnect with each other on a much deeper level. There was something that was lacking in communication during quarantine, and now it’s possible to regain that connection. Technology has advanced to the point where you can video chat with friends and family miles apart. However, there’s no replacing a warm embrace or handshake, especially if you haven’t seen each other in a long time.

Of course, in-person communication isn’t perfect. Sometimes interacting with someone standing a few feet away from you is harder than talking through technology. If you were texting someone for example, you could simply send a message before focusing on something else. Interacting with someone face to face involves eye contact, undivided attention, and other common courtesies depending on the situation. Sure, these micro-requirements are a lot of work and may seem tedious at times, but it’s the little things like that which make us human all the same, something that was almost forgotten during the COVID-19 quarantine.

From a negative standpoint, some might feel the need to tempt fate. This has ranged from not wearing a mask in public waiting areas or dormitories, to wearing masks only covering the mouth, leaving the nose unprotected. When we become bolder, COVID-19 does so as well. Even if a vaccine for the disease now exists, that doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has suddenly vanished from the face of the earth. As someone whose classes revolve around physical contact with fellow students, it can be stressful when someone nearby doesn’t follow safety protocol. 

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with believing that masks or vaccines aren’t required for daily living. The United States of America is a free country, and freedom of speech is something that we take pride in. Having said that, it’s just as important to keep the opinions of our fellow citizens in mind too. Although the safety regulations on campus may seem like a hassle, they were created with the safety of citizens as a top priority. On top of that, the regulations have seen results positive enough to lessen COVID-19 restrictions. As long as we respect both the rules and the safety of others, we can move past this pandemic. — Max Pennington

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