The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a crisis that is unprecedented and could not even have been imagined by many people. As the infection and death toll have risen in the United States, a shutdown of the economy and social life has increased. As many people predicted, a closure of schools has been extended through the end of the academic year.
Meanwhile, educators have been scrambling to offer some instruction to students remotely. This is possible because of the way people are connected by the internet, although written materials are being disseminated to those who lack computer access. The quality of this education will not equal what students normally receive, but it will have to do. And it is obvious that the students who are diligent and fortunate to have strong parental support will gain more, just as they do in the classroom.
State education officials have had little choice but to give credit for the year to students because concerns about the coronavirus will extend into the summer, and the end of summer will be time to start another year. They can only hope that any lost ground is made up eventually.
Meanwhile, high school seniors have been anticipating their graduation, an event that produces lifelong memories for students and families. Most of them will be awarded a diploma under emergency state guidelines. The ceremonies, however, are another matter.
The state Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman have heard requests from students and parents to simply delay graduations. While deciding that students should be given the benefit of the doubt as far as completing requirements, they did not seem receptive to public events. Board member Armando Ruiz said he believes that most high schools will find an “innovative way to celebrate graduation’’ and Hoffman said she had spoken with some school superintendents about finding “creative’’ solutions.
Fortunately, technology will allow sharing of some of what normally would occur such as speeches and photos. Our newspapers, which always commemorate graduations in a big way, will do so once again.
2020 is a year people will remember for the rest of their lives, but hopefully medical research will be able to prevent repeating it. For now, media and social media are helping people to cope.