With the announced temporary closure of schools on March 13 followed by the April 9 decision to close schools for the reminder of the academic year, there was an immediate halt to life as we know it.
As a career educator with more than 40 years of experience as a student, teacher, and administrator, I cannot remember a time when my perspective on reality has changed so rapidly.
While I completely understand and support the decisions of our governor for the safety and well-being of our communities, the decision to shut down school facilities has come with significant social and emotional implications.
Our life in education has become so different, from working via online meetings to facilitating drive-by pickups of lunches, instructional materials, and computers. The education landscape is suddenly very different. While educators are doing everything possible to ensure continued education for our students, we recognize that our seniors may not be afforded the traditional graduation experience.
Therefore, this message is written for those nearly 6,000 seniors from across Berks County. Please know that your teachers, staff members, administrators, and classmates all miss being with you in person and continue to support you during this unprecedented time.
This was to be a year of celebration for you. The end of the senior year highlights your triumphs academically, athletically and on stage. While I am confident that every district in the county will provide opportunities to highlight your achievements, it will not be the same commencement celebration that would have been conducted before this worldwide pandemic.
Educators acknowledge this great loss to you, our seniors. Nonetheless, I encourage each of you to stay connected and find ways to interact with your peers who are going through this same experience. You are not alone. Your sacrifices are helping to ensure the health and safety of our community, and, the senior class of 2020 has the power to make the most out of this unfortunate situation.
We have seen much support of you in our communities. There has been a huge swell of support on social media for seniors where people are posting their own senior class photos, which in some cases had probably been hidden for many years.
We have watched a video of a father and daughter dressed for the prom dancing in their living room on a Zoom session with other families, and a virtual prom hosted on social media for all seniors across the country.
We have seen community recognition through lawn signs, businesses using their signs to post your photos, and schools using their social media platforms to help the community celebrate you.
Everyone is coming together to let you know you are not forgotten, and that we recognize your achievements as seniors.
You, the senior class of 2020, are becoming even more resilient than anyone could have predicted. You are stepping forward, and during this time of uncertainty, you know we all care very deeply for you. We are extremely proud of the work you have done for the past 13 years, and we know that you will do great things moving forward.
Stay strong, while this is not what you envisioned as seniors, you are our future and we celebrate your accomplishments. On behalf of Berks County educators, we salute the Class of 2020.