How COVID-19 transformed the community, classroom, and careers

By: Madison Wilkins

No one ever expected the elbow bump to replace the handshake, or for a virtual meeting program to take over the classroom space. The idea of having to wear a surgical mask for your own safety would’ve sounded absurd, and having to maintain 6 feet from somebody is otherworldly. For a brief period of time, COVID-19 made this our new normal.

Social norms are the perceived informal, mostly unwritten, rules that define acceptable and appropriate actions within a given group or community, thus guiding human behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed our community, classroom, and careers. More specifically, our perception of the every-changing social norms within these “3 C’s”. As the three areas are explored, I examined the personal impact it has made on my experience as a college student. Additionally, taking a closer look at the various findings and current events that tie into the impacts it has made on our world.

Community begins within the home. It takes a village to often have that needed support amongst a group of people. The first COVID-19 impacts we saw within the community was the serious health and financial burdens in many U.S. households. Our villages grew smaller as our health officials and care-givers spent more time in hospitals, and we spent less time with our high-risk members of the community who lost the battle against the Coronavirus. Our local businesses in these communities suffered financial losses as they either temporarily or permanently closed. The community had to also quickly adapt to the inability to host social gatherings, remain less than 6 feet apart, and for some states, adopt curfews. As a resident of New Jersey, we saw the shift from normality as we spent 3 consecutive months without leaving our homes. The police department searched the streets past a certain time of night to ensure safety within the community. A source by the National Academy of Medicine further explains these impacts and compelling needs of the patients and family communities, “It is amid this period of declining health and growing inequality in America that the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The public health emergency—which remains ongoing at the time of this paper’s publication—has negatively impacted the lives of virtually every patient, family, and community throughout the nation and the world”. In addition to these worldwide impacts, we are also seeing this shift in normality within the classroom as well.

The role social norms have played, how they’ve changed, and the impacts on the future. Our governing rules of behavior have also created large impacts within the classroom. As a current junior in college, the memories of times when zoom was’t utilized are blurry. For some, pen and paper have simply become a thing of the past. As a member of the Class of 2020, there was no senior trip, prom, or graduation parties. Not to mention the transition to becoming a college student. The classroom faced some of the biggest changes during the global pandemic. Virtual meeting options are normalized and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a scantron. From a psychological perspective, COVID-19 in the classroom disrupted student growth and development. For example, the staff shortages and lack of face to face brings forth confusion and frustration for many students that need individualized attention. Brookings, Brown Center Chalkboard focused an entire study on the pandemic’s impacts on learning. The research made new discoveries on impacts on learning during a pandemic as well as the possible school closures. “The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced uncertainty into major aspects of national and global society, including for schools. For example, there is uncertainty about how school closures last spring impacted student achievement, as well as how the rapid conversion of most instruction to an online platform this academic year will continue to affect achievement”. The rapid conversion to online instruction heavily impacted my transition into Clemson University. 

My entire first semester at Clemson was spent online as I tried to adapt to being miles away from home, a pandemic, and the changes that come with being a college freshman. Despite the transition, COVID-19 sparked new developments in education for higher seminaries of learning. It is now socially acceptable to virtually meet with your advisor or professor even after the end of the pandemic. For those applying or transferring into Clemson, the university is still test optional for admission. These decisions set the precedent for the college experience for all of the students. Additionally, the COVID-19 classroom impacts create change for the “c” that follows as we explore the changes it has made in careers.

The career field is always changing but a global pandemic is a factor that no corporation saw coming. COVID-19 impacted desirable job types and employment around the world. At the onset of the pandemic we saw a shift to remote work for the jobs that allowed. For those that relied on in person interaction, drastic changes were made as they pushed to stay open or prepared to be permanently closed. Many individuals and families struggled through unemployment as well. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stated that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression. There is a real danger that the crisis will increase poverty and widen inequalities, with the impact felt for years to come.” The previous dilemma came to life as we saw the impacts of this current job crisis. Moreover, we are also seeing a shift in job desirability. More individuals are choosing to work remotely from home when given the opportunity. The career field is also changing as more are making the decision to make a living off of social media rather than a traditional job. Regardless of the place of work, COVID-19 is making impacts in all of these areas.

All things considered, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed our community, classroom, and careers. The world has had to adapt to new guiding behaviors. Whether it’s social distancing or virtual meetings, these were the new social norms and they have impacted our “3 c’s” forever.


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