What Military Families Should Look for in the Post-Quarantine New Normal
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of a new normal has consumed our thoughts. We’ve spent months navigating an abrupt change in our lives, while figuring out how to work, care for our families, and keep ourselves and our community safe. We’ve taken on more roles, going from working full-time to working full-time from home while also playing school teacher, housekeeper, and chef (for endless snacks and meals). Some have lost their jobs or been furloughed and are feeling panic in a whole new way.
On top of all of this, we’ve said goodbye to any support our military families have depended on — babysitters, friends, and extended family. Our kids lost consistency provided by school and friends. It’s been stressful, to say the least. So we’ve clung to the return of normalcy, right? The promise that this isn’t forever. But now that states are beginning/continuing to open up, we’re learning that the idea of normal is still taking shape. We’re not bouncing back to how it was. Will we ever?
The answer? None of us know. But what we do know is that we’re easing forward. We’re heading into more uncharted territory and hanging onto some of the practices we’ve learned over the past couple of months.
See some of the latest COVID-19 updates for military families:
- 8 Updates for Military Families as the Coronavirus Quarantine Continues
- Financial Help for Military Families Affected by the Coronavirus
- Should You Buy or Sell a House During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
5 Things to Look for in the Post COVID-19 Quarantine New Normal
Image via Army Sgt. Amber Smith/Defense.gov.
1. Adopted practices.
While many of us are getting the green light to take a seat at our favorite restaurant or peruse the store aisles, we’re encouraged (or legally mandated) to continue social distancing and wear masks. We can’t simply live through the coronavirus pandemic and not be more mindful of proper hygiene moving forward.
2. Schools reshaped.
Most, if not all, schools canceled classes for the 2019-2020 school year. Many teachers initiated video calls and assigned classwork for students to complete from home. But the question now is, what will the 2020-2021 school year look like? Will kids return to classes as normal in the fall? What new policies will be in place?
Progression seems to depend largely on a readily available vaccine. But we can count on social distancing practices to be enforced among all students and faculty. And, while it’s all speculation for the moment, many states are discussing the possibility of staggering students across different times, different days. Others are toying with the idea of continuing online learning. Like most major changes surrounding the response to COVID-19, we may see a variance across the states.
3. Families reunited.
The stop-movement order made it impossible for many service members to come home as planned. Many were at the end of deployment, only to learn that their return home was indefinite. And the spouses and families waiting on them? They fell right into the deployment cycle of emotions again, and with it, a new level of uncertainty. Thankfully, with the stop movement order coming to an end on June 30, families will start to reunite. And hopefully, we’ll begin to see their joyful embrace brighten the internet.
4. A rush.
We saw PCS moves put on hold with the stop-movement order. We’ve all experienced changes in orders or a shifted timeline, but this major halt overlapped with PCS season. Nearly all of the 60% of the 430,000 military members who receive orders to move every year are waiting for the go-ahead to pack up and head to their next duty station — minus the few with exceptions mid-coronavirus. If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands waiting to go, then buckle up! Things will move as quickly as the military can hire movers to get people’s stuff sent across the U.S. or overseas.
5. Travel redefined.
While some are eager to jump on the first available flight to continue their travels (we could all use a vacation to reset after the start to this year!), most people aren’t. Flights are operating, and there will continue to be more as the demand increases, but we can expect it to be a slow process. As air travel begins to gain traction again, it will likely come with new rules — required use of masks, gloves, and potentially rear-facing seats.
As for now, research shows that more people will choose to take a road trip to a destination they can drive instead of boarding a plane. Smaller travel can be good for the family and the local economy, but the tourism industry makes up 10% of the global economy, (1.1 trillion dollars to United State’s GDP in 2018 and 7.8 million U.S. jobs) and without air travel functioning how it was just a few months ago, it’s likely going to take some time before we see things restored.
As we navigate into a new normal for ourselves and the world, let's remember to exercise patience and grace. Just as there was throughout the pandemic, there will be a difference of opinion now. While some will follow the rules closely and then some, others will feel more freedom to relax. Let’s remain kind, take care of ourselves, and remember that we’re all just doing our best here.