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What I Would Like to See: Returning to Normal after COVID-19

What I Would Like to See: Returning to Normal after COVID-19

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With the number of COVID-19 infections decreasing thanks to masking and vaccinations, many governors have released the mask usage and other restrictions that kept many of us at home since last March.

The airlines are still requiring masks during flights, except for times when people are eating or drinking. Given that none of the airlines are keeping seats open anymore, that’s a good thing.

Most colleges and universities have announced plans to return to campus in the fall, and a large number are requiring students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated. My daughters are college athletes and are hopeful that this season will be as open and uninterrupted as the 2018-2019 season was.

We are big sports fans in my family. In addition to my daughters’ college events, we try to attend as many Baltimore Ravens and Duke basketball homes games as we can fit in our schedules.

We also enjoy dining out, whether it’s at home in Austin or throughout our travels. Over the past year when we visited restaurants that were open during the COVID-19 pandemic, we visited those with outdoor dining as much as possible. When it was too cold to dine out, we ordered carryout meals when available.

While COVID-19 cases are declining in the U.S., we know that’s not the case everywhere. As long as the virus is active, it can mutate (and it has). With a number of countries now opening their borders to tourists, it’s possible that a mutated strain can infect those who have been vaccinated. That’s one of the reasons why the drug manufacturers are working on booster shot vaccines.

I am glad that the airlines continue to require masks. Even if they don’t at some point, I think there are many people who will continue to wear them, including me.

I think the colleges requiring vaccinations in the fall are on the right track. Sadly, that’s not the opinion of some of the state legislatures and governors who have decreed (or passed laws) disallowing public institutions to require vaccinations. The private institutions in those states, at least, are free to implement the requirement. I would hope that public institutions not allowed to implement a vaccination requirement would find an accommodation that could satisfy the politicians as well as minimize the infection spread potential.

I’m also not a fan of using the “honor system” for events or other situations where vaccinations are required. I have my CDC vaccination card that I received and carry it with me in my wallet. Just in case I lose it or it wears out, I have a picture of it on my mobile phone. If people are concerned that a vaccination ID is the first step to a “big brother” form of government, then ask people for proof of vaccination. The honor system is not good enough for me.

If all of the sports teams planning to resume normal attendance this fall and winter required season ticketholders to submit proof of vaccination, I’m sure those ticketholders wouldn’t mind an ID identifying them as such (I have such an ID for the Ravens and assume most NFL teams have similar IDs for their season ticketholders). Non-season ticketholders would have to show proof of vaccination in order to gain entry. I bet someone could develop an app for that.

COVID-19 is still a serious problem and should not be taken lightly. I know people who died from it and people who tested positive with no serious consequences. I also know people who were very sick for a while but are back to normal and a few people who have what is referred to as “long-term COVID.”

My family hosted a party celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday last weekend. Between 60 and 70 people attended, most of whom had been vaccinated.

Because it was held outdoors, none of the attendees had traveled overseas recently, and I was vaccinated, I was not overly concerned. However, that was 70 people that I mostly know, not 70,000 people at an NFL football game or 105,000 at one of the mega college football stadiums.

We’ve worked too hard to get to this point. It feels great to shake hands and hug people that we haven’t seen in a year or so. Let’s ask those who host potential super-spreader events to find ways to reduce the risk so that this COVID-19 pandemic does not return. The consequences should be unacceptable to all of us. None of us want to return to work from home status, and no one should want to be ill with a COVID diagnosis.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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