Normalcy is Still Just a Stone’s Throw Away

It is hard to believe another year is almost behind us. This year, K–12 and higher education institutions took the first steps back toward normalcy as they resumed in-person learning. It seems like all we hear about are the heated debates regarding masks and vaccines, but I’m starting to suspect that those conversations are dominated by the loud minority (on both sides). For every one student who refuses to wear a mask, or one teacher who refuses to get vaccinated—and gets a week’s worth of national news coverage as a result—there are ten more who are plenty willing to return to the normal flow of things with the aid of a small piece of cloth or a quick jab.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the GSX 2021 conference in Orlando, Fla. Last year’s GSX became a digital event due to the pandemic, so this year has marked the return to in-person trade shows. From a logistics perspective, the event went off without a hitch. ASIS required attendees to submit proof of vaccination in advance or complete a daily health attestation form. Mask wearing was required and enforced. Booths were spaced further apart, and floor signs helped direct traffic flow. The event was a little quieter and more sparsely attended than usual. But it served as a proof of concept that we’re ready to gather en masse again—if we’re willing to follow a few extra rules.

At the conference, it was nice to see old colleagues, to solidify existing relationships, to confer with familiar partners. It was also nice to be placed in the same room as people and companies that we hadn’t worked with before, or perhaps hadn’t even heard of. It served as an opportunity to have a spontaneous conversation with a new face, to broaden as well as deepen my professional network. It was the chance to learn something that I didn’t know until it was right in front of me.

The longer we spend isolated in our homes, the deeper our tunnel vision gets. In the digital landscape, we curate our social media feeds and pay selective attention to the things we want to see. Things we agree with. Things that are familiar. It is only in person that we’re forced to engage at length with the unfamiliar. In addition, this is why trade shows (and in-person events) remain crucial. World beyond the caves in which we’ve hunkered down a whole.

Campus Security & Life Safety is here to help you navigate the return to safe, in-person learning. In addition to the print magazine you’re holding, you can find more news (both short-form and long-form) on our website. You can subscribe to our newsletter, attend a webinar, and listen to an episode of our Schools in Focus podcast. There are plenty of ways to engage and find the products and services you need to help your community return to life.

I hope that this time next year, we’re not still talking about “the return to normalcy” like it’s a stone’s throw away. It would be nice to be able to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us once and for all. For some, that might involve a step outside their comfort zone. But for the silent majority who’ve been keeping their heads down, following the guidelines and waiting for the storm to pass, it would feel very much like relief.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2021 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at


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