COVID-19 May Have Stolen this School Year, but Lives Will Go on

COVID-19 May Have Stolen this School Year, but Lives Will Go on

The 2019-2020 school year was a year that we will remember for the rest of our lives — and not in the way we expected. In early 2020, the COVID-19 (or coronavirus) epidemic in Wuhan, China, grew into a pandemic affecting every person on the planet. According to UNESCO monitoring, more than 160 countries have tried to slow the spread by implementing either country-wide or regional school closures, forcing 90 percent of the world’s student population to continue their learning from home. For the greater good of protecting the global public health, any semblance of normal teenage life has been suspended indefinitely, throwing the lives of millions of students into uncertainty.  

For Encinal High School, the last day of school before this “coronacation” was March 13, and many government officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, anticipate California schools will likely be closed until summer. If this is what comes to pass, then the shelter-in-place will also possibly extend into the summer, cancelling students’ internships and jobs that were crucial to gaining experience for the future. In one fell swoop, the future of every child in the world — everyone in the world, for that matter — has been thrown into a spiral of confusion and chaos. 

Teenage years are short enough as it already is (you’re only in high school for about 1,460 days, 720 of which are spent in school — I counted), and while this is not very much time, it is extremely valuable to be able to socialize and build skills with peers and teachers before we are released into the world. The longer we are put under a shelter-in-place and school is canceled, the more we lose of this valuable time; the less memories we can make. 

The most frustration and anger has been seen among the seniors, and understandably so. The class of 2020 was just about to enter the last stretch of their senior year, meaning that prom, senior banquet and graduation were right around the corner. Sadly, all of these rites of passage were canceled along with school, following cancellation all gatherings of more than 10 people. 

Unless the country miraculously recovers in the next two months, the class of 2020 will never get to experience the nights that they were told would be unforgettable. They will never get to walk across the stage wearing their cap and gown to seal off the end of their childhood journey. March 13th could very likely have been the last day that seniors had to say goodbye to Encinal, and they didn’t even know it.

I, myself, have not greatly suffered from this closure. Although my first year of high school was disrupted, I still have time to make memories. If you walked up to just about any Encinal student right now and asked them “Do you want to go back to school?” the answer would almost certainly be a clear “Yes.” After we are allowed to return to school, we will appreciate the time we have together even more than we did before. We know that we need to make even more memories to replace the ones that we have lost. 

The seniors do not have this same kind of security, and all I can say to the class of 2020 is this: I don’t know all of you, but those of you that I do know are amazing, smart and kind people. You guys are going to achieve things bigger than anything at Encinal, and high school is only the beginning of your journeys. You may not get the unforgettable last memories of high school that you guys deserve, but you also have your entire lives ahead of you: thousands of unforgettable days, nights and places to see. 

Very soon, all of this will be behind you and the world will be at your fingertips. I can’t bring prom or the graduation ceremony back, but I can urge that you focus on the joy ahead of you instead of the sadness behind you. What the government is doing right now may negatively impact you right now, but it is being done to protect your future. Make the most of it.

Keep your head up, you got this! 

Stella Madsen is a freshman at Encinal High School.