It is difficult to find a rhyme or reason behind why some events leave a lasting impression on our long term memory. When I was in middle school, a group of boys planned an overnight summer trip to Lake Chatuge. We would stay at a campsite, and while we would know several of the other families from the campground, no parents would be staying with us. Initially, my mom told me I could go, and then on the day of the trip, with all my stuff packed, she had second thoughts. Now to be fair to my mom, it was a horrible idea to let me go, I was sure to end up somewhere I should not be, doing things I should not be doing, well after the time to be back in my campsite. I know this because those activities were already well planned out! While I don’t remember all of the specifics of the trip, or even who all was going, what I do remember is that it hurt deeply when one parent after another backed out of letting their teenage son spend the night several counties away from home. I remember that broken promise.
In the last few months, our seniors have lost experiences we will never be able to replace. While we are sympathetic to these losses, we have not rescheduled them. I understand why some parents would like us to try to put the activities back on the calendar. Doing so adds a temporary degree of normalcy back to their lives and says to everyone we are out of this, and that life is about to return to normal. While we hope this is the case, there are no guarantees as to how long it will be before social distancing guidelines allow us to have large groups of students in close enough proximity to discuss having events like a prom. The reality is not missed that any kind of social distancing guideline runs in complete contradiction to an event like a prom. The risks associated with planning such an event–even in the distant future–and then having to cancel later, compounds the hurt these students are already feeling.
We know that the gathering limitations currently in place prevent us from having graduation in our gym or at our stadium. These rules are designed to keep Covid-19 from spreading and are still necessary. We have a responsibility to follow them. The last thing we would want is for a family member to get sick attending a school function before it is safe to do so. There are still significant portions of our population that are at serious risk if exposed to the virus. Because of the unknowns surrounding the transition back to normal, we want to be slow and deliberate in making plans for upcoming events. When social distancing guidelines are relaxed, and we know that we can begin to plan celebrations for these students, we will do everything we can to celebrate their successes. The last thing we want to do is make another promise to our students, especially our seniors, that we cannot keep.