Even as the Class of 2020 celebrated the end of its time in high school with a car parade, the lack of a true in-person graduation loomed large over the event. This year, however, we appear to be nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination rates are rising, and California’s lowered age threshold means plenty of students can be fully vaccinated by the end of the school year.
The Campanile praises ASB and the Paly administration for moving ahead with plans for an in-person graduation on the football field. We trust proper health precautions will be taken to ensure all in attendance feel welcome and safe.
Additionally, The Campanile thanks the PTSA for its tireless planning of graduation-week events for seniors. The opportunity to regain some sense of normalcy at the end of the year would be impossible without their efforts.
But as both ASB and the PTSA advocate for more in-person events, opposition from district leadership has proven to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. The Campanile thinks, as long as the proper safety measures are put in place, PAUSD should allow students and parents to plan more in-person events in order to foster a much-needed sense of community in the wake of COVID-19.
As proven by low case numbers and the lack of spread during in-person school, Paly is certainly prepared to host more in-person activities. In fact, Friday lunches often come with spikeball and music courtesy of ASB, a scene that closely resembles lunchtime activities from before COVID-19. What separates this from other events proposed by ASB?
Additionally, there is a clear need for in-person bonding after a year hunkered down at home. In-person events offer a brief period of normalcy where students can truly be a part of the Paly community.
This is particularly important for freshmen, many of whom know classmates only from Zoom and have never met some of their peers. In-person events are invaluable to creating a sense of community among the freshman class and will help integrate the class into the larger school community.
Seniors would also benefit immensely from the presence of more in-person events during their last month of high school. From reconnecting with old friends to checking in on people’s post-Paly plans, in-person events provide seniors with a sense of closure after a turbulent year.
The Campanile acknowledges that, despite the vaccination rollout and lowered case numbers, many traditional in-person events remain out of the question due to State and County pandemic regulations. However, plenty more events are still both safe and feasible. We urge PAUSD to work to prioritize finding ways to alter iconic traditions in order to maintain tradition while providing a safe environment.
This is certainly a difficult task, but both ASB and the PTSA have proven it is possible. And just as neighboring school districts have adapted in-person events such as prom to be safe for COVID-19, The Campanile hopes PAUSD will work with student and parent organizations to approve and run in-person activities.