Greetings and welcome to the 2021-22 school year. It has been an interesting time to be a student during a pandemic but, as most of you have likely noticed by now things do seem to be slowly returning to normal.

One of the first things you’ll notice as we make our way through the first semester is that classes are a little bit closer to how they were two years ago. Granted, there is still a mask mandate in effect at the moment and it is recommended that you take safety precautions so you don’t get sick, but the fact that we are beginning to see big changes is a good sign for things to come if we continue this trend. With issues such as mental health problems and poor learning environments, the return to normalcy was starting to feel very necessary. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “about four in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder,” which is up from one in 10 in 2019. This is largely due to spikes of working from home and going long periods of time without seeing friends and family. Make sure to check out https://www.montana.edu/counseling/if you need to talk to someone.  

Another huge thing to look forward to this semester, that I’m sure everyone is excited to see again, is events. While we did have some events last year, they were fairly few and far between, not to mention usually over a Zoom call. This year, however, that way of doing events is already reverting back to normal! Within the first few weeks alone we are already seeing a whole list of fun things happening on campus. These of course include, but aren’t limited to, Catapalooza, a gathering of various clubs and businesses, Rockin’ the ‘M’ and Service Saturdays. And that was all within the first week. For the upperclassmen, these familiar events are probably a breath of fresh air, and for the new students, it’s something to look forward to. 

Although, it will be interesting to see how MSU continues to stay on top of things with the delta variant. With slackened COVID-19 restrictions, problems like hygiene come up. The desks are no longer being wiped off after every class, many of the plexiglass shields are coming down and masks are only required in classroom settings. So will the guidelines we’re following now even be worth it in the long run? It will be interesting to see. But for now, we have some semblance of normal life again. 

It’s honestly amazing that we have been able to come this close to living normally again, even if we still have a long way to go. That being said, if we can continue encouraging a culture of personal safety I have little to no doubt that we will soon be continuing our normal lives once again.