The coronavirus forced Houston ISD to close all of its schools through April 10. Humble ISD followed suit a few days later, leaving the class of 2020 wondering how their final year of high school will play out. The district has not yet stated whether they will postpone or cancel celebrations like prom, senior picnic and graduation.
“This is what we’ve worked for and looked forward to for so long,” said senior class president Olivia Fazzino.
Senior class sponsor Pamela Workman, Student Council sponsor Natalie Johnson and a representative from the JW Marriott Downtown, which is where prom is supposed to take place, are meeting today to further discuss these issues. The JW Marriott Downtown is still open. Prom is scheduled to be hold on May 9.
Many students imagine themselves at these fun gatherings from the moment they start their first day of high school, and class officers strive to make it special for them and their peers.
“It would break my heart if prom or senior picnic got canceled,” Fazzino said. “The class officers and I have worked for four years to raise as much money as possible to have an amazing senior year. [We’ve been] missing school to meet with decorators, having fundraiser meetings and dealing with finances. Given that [these events are] what most seniors look forward to, it would be really hard.”
Fazzino, a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, first read about the coronavirus in early January on Twitter and has continuously checked social media for updates ever since.
“I thought it was very scary but never thought it would affect our school, or Houston in general,” Fazzino said.
Once the virus grew to be a global pandemic, Humble ISD immediately put several measures in place to ensure students in all grade levels have access to the resources they need to continue thriving in their academic and personal lives.
Free breakfast and lunch are available for students to pick up everyday at select locations, and all courses moved online. Teachers began to navigate programs like Zoom, a group video chat application, to conduct lessons and relay information to students. Updating through Schoology, or Canvas for OnRamps classes, and simply sending emails seemed to be the most effective way to stay informed and in contact.
“It’s pretty nice we can make our own schedules for learning instead of the same daily routine we’re used to [at school],” Fazzino said. “It is a lot harder to set aside time to learn when you’re not in a social setting like school, however, it’s a good way to learn self-discipline.”
High schools aren’t the only academic institutions to move their curriculum online. In fact, almost every level of schooling has access to digital educational resources. Most colleges across the U.S. have implemented a full-time distance learning program, as well as provided any additional resources necessary for their students.
Although she’s already been accepted to her university of choice, Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., Fazzino advised other students who might still be weighing their options to research the actions the colleges they may be considering are putting in place to care for their students during this time.
“I think everyone right now, if they are undecided on where to go [to college], should look up how their prospective schools are handling the coronavirus,” Fazzino said. “Seeing how the staff works in pandemics like this is a great way to tell how invested they actually are in students’ personal health and wellness.”
Missing out on prom or senior picnic would be hard for all the seniors, but school officials all over the world agree that slowing the spread of the coronavirus and keeping students healthy is the first priority.
“This isn’t the way we want to end our high school experience,” Fazzino said. “Whatever happens, I think we can make the most out of it.”