Here is a letter to my school-age grandchildren which I would like to share with you:
Dear Grandgirls and Grandguys,
Congratulations to you 2020 Graduates and your Families! To my Eighth Grade Grad, you really are a 2020 graduate as you have finished the rigorous requirements for the courses in your grade and will be participating soon in a public graduation although not the sort of years past. You have been in the same parochial school since kindergarten and there’s no doubt you are well prepared for entering ninth grade as a Freshman at your local public high school! Yay! But to my other Grandgirls and Grandguys from third grade going into fourth and the rest of you in high school, are you wondering why I am sending you a note of congratulations as a 2020 graduate, too? It is because I consider each one of you a Graduate of the 2020 Coronavirus School of Dashed Dreams and Surreal Expectations.
I know that I, for one, at the beginning of this year thought the numbers 2020 sounded almost magical! 20/20 is perfect vision so I guess I thought the year 2020 might almost be perfect in the good things it would bring. Well, we know many of the hopes we all had turned into a much different experience. If anything, I think we all learned that our past everyday lives had a lot of good in them. Do you think perhaps we took some of that for granted? Didn’t we think certain things would keep on happening? Going to school classrooms, practicing for school plays and programs, eating in the lunchroom, passing friends in the hallway, staying up late working on a school project to be presented the next day, going on a school trip and you fill in the rest… But you persevered with online classes. And so did your parents.
None of us expected there would be a virus so pervasive that after it first began, it would travel around the world in just a few short weeks landing on our own USA. You heard your parents talking about the governors’ issuing requests or almost mandates that factories and businesses—all except what is considered essential—shut their doors. You heard that these governors were asking their citizens to “stay safe at home.” And at the federal level the CDC, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention was issuing guidelines for containing the spread of the Novel Coronavirus and the disease it brings with it, COVID-19. You probably also knew that at the global level WHO–the World Health Organization– was issuing its own guidelines.
I’m sure at some point even the youngest of you (from 3rd grade up through high school students) became aware that all medical personnel and not just surgical doctors and nurses were wearing what is called PPE–personal protective equipment covering them from head to toe with masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields–making hospitals look like everyone was out for a moon walk. Yes, all the information in my letter to you is true. It’s not just a bad dream. And in addition to its human and economic toll—meaning those who died and those who were unemployed–the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic was really hard on you students whether children, teens, or young adults. I’m so sad that your school year had such an unexpected ending.
I know your disappointments and struggles have been huge. I imagine you must look back on the most common of days and think now how you would love to relive them. And I surely do know how much you were looking forward to the customary end-of-school activities and celebrations.
But, let’s try not to be sad! Let’s celebrate the good houses we have to live in! Let’s celebrate the good food on our tables! Let’s celebrate the good teachers, school administrators, and friends who care about us! And most of all let’s celebrate our families, who love us so much! Congratulations, 2020 graduates! Next year will be better.
Open Letter to My Grandchildren
By Connie Carlisle Polley, 2020