5 Shocking Things That Could Change for the Better After Coronavirus

These are the silver linings you may be able to look forward to after this COVID-19 pandemic is over.

There's no sugarcoating the fact that so many things have changed for the worse since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Collectively, we're grieving the loss of countless lives, mourning the end of life as we knew it, and juggling our messy new schedules and priorities. Even worse, a second wave of the virus could hit, or the economy to collapse. That's why finding just a bit of good in all of this can feel a much needed breath of fresh air.

However small these silver linings may seem in the face of our current situation, seeing how things could change for the better after coronavirus gives us something we all need right now: hope that we can emerge from this crisis stronger and better. From new medical technologies that could spur breakthroughs in modern medicine to policies that could revolutionize education, here are the top five things that could change for the better when all of this is said and done. And to minimize your risk when you head out of your house, check out This Tip From the CDC Will Make Running Your Errands Faster and Safer.

Student loans could be forgiven.

Cash, and a post-it that says "student debt"

Many Americans struggle with crushing educational debt, and with a skyrocketing rate of unemployment, paying those debts back has become harder than ever during the coronavirus crisis.

Luckily, there's some good news. As Forbes reports, there are currently five plans for loan forgiveness on the table that could offer major financial relief. Some of these include specific provisions for essential workers and medical professionals, while other proposals extend their loan forgiveness to all undergraduates. This could be very good news for millions of student loan borrowers, who have long battled their debts.

Work-life balance could be transformed.

Woman working on her couch

Remote work and flexible schedules used to be considered rare perks afforded to few American workers, but after adapting to the coronavirus crisis, many of us now find ourselves working from home.

A recent Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of employed Americans have transitioned to remote work in response to COVID-19—a number that's doubled since mid-March of this year. When surveyed, three out of five of those remote workers said they would like to continue working from home "as much as possible" when restrictions are lifted. Many employers are likely to be amenable to this new arrangement, which will save overhead costs and help them maintain a safer work environment for those who do return to the office. And for more on life in your office post-coronavirus, check out 5 Things You'll Never See in Your Office Again After Coronavirus.

School class sizes could get smaller.

Kids in reduced size classroom

According to The National Center for Educational Statistics, the average class size in American public schools with departmentalized instruction is between 24 and 26 students, depending on age. Figuring out how to lower this number has become a perennial discussion among educators and policy makers, who recognize that overstuffed classrooms inhibit learning and allow many students to slip through the cracks of the system.

That could all change, as we reopen schools and reimagine the classroom through the lens of social distancing. Though we don't yet know how it will be achieved, it's likely that we'll see smaller class sizes in the fall. According to NPR, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, has suggested that classes of no more than 12 students would be optimal for maintaining social distancing requirements. And for more ways coronavirus will transform life in the classroom, check out these 7 Things You'll Never See in Schools Again After Coronavirus.

Medicine could be revolutionized.

Gloved hand with RNA

Right now, the race for a COVID-19 vaccine is underway, and—if successful—it may usher in a bold new frontier of medicine. The urgency of the pandemic has compressed timelines and pushed researchers to explore new strategies, including the development of mRNA gene-based vaccines.

According to PHG Foundation, a health policy think tank at the University of Cambridge, advancements in the field of mRNA treatments could transcend their current potential as a coronavirus vaccine to make a significant impact on other infectious diseases (including influenza and HIV), as well as cancer vaccines. Researchers in both fields of medicine have struggled to combat these threats with more conventional treatments, so, if proven effective, mRNA treatments could revolutionize medicine itself. And for more on a potential coronavirus vaccine, here are 7 Questions About the Coronavirus Vaccine, Answered by Doctors.

The environment could improve.

Hands holding plant

With the shuttering of many industries and the abrupt pause in our daily lives and travel plans, coronavirus has triggered a sharp downturn in carbon emissions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that our global CO2 levels could drop by more than seven percent this year, a reduction that marks the fossil fuel industry's most dramatic single-year drop on record.

Though of course long-term improvements will have to be the result of policy changes and a switch to renewable energy sources, this just goes to show that change is possible—and that with concentrated effort, a greener future is within reach.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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