B.C. youth in the graduating class of 2020 are bidding farewell to their high school years in an unprecedented way – one their parents and grandparents will surely be unable to relate to.
As provinces across the country look to easing social contact restrictions, large-scale events such as graduations will remain off the table, health officials have confirmed. In B.C., Premier John Horgan has hinted that students likely won’t be returning back into the classroom until September at the earliest.
But Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, wants each graduating student to look at this experience as a unique and historic one.
“The traditional ceremonies and celebrations that we would expect to have as we make this major transition from high school to the rest of our lives are on hold right now and we won’t be doing them in the same way this summer, but take heart we are thinking about that and teachers, administrators and parents are still working to make this an incredibly memorable experience for all of you,” Henry said during her Saturday (May 2) news conference.
“You need to think about this in that you are, and will always be, unique in the graduating class. It has been over a hundred years since we have had an event like this pandemic. Few of us will ever know or experience graduating during the circumstances at a global pandemic.”
For many young people, the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to daily life and future plans has provoked anxiety, Henry continued, which is to be expected.
The B.C. government has launched a suite of resources for youth and their parents to support them through mental health struggles that may be triggered by or exacerbated by the pandemic.
“I know many of us are feeling the fatigue and frustration of maintaining safe physical distance, of not seeing our friends, of having to connect with people in a virtual way, and it’s especially challenging for young people where the main connections are often related to friends in school,” Henry said.
“That can make people feel very overwhelmed and anxious and we know families are doing their best and it can be very challenging to have your family around you all of the time.
“I want you to know that you are not alone. We understand that this can be very anxiety provoking, we understand that there’s a lot of things we don’t know and we’re working through it together.”
Henry urged anyone who needs help to contact the Kids Help Line at 1-800-680-4264.
As for parents who have found themselves homeschool their children while also working, the provincial health officer offered said she understands how tough and frustrating balancing both may feel for British Columbians but also for the millions of parents and guardians around the world.
“Do what you can. I understand this isn’t easy… there is no such thing as perfect, it is an unattainable concept and none of us should be striving for it,” she said, adding that the government will be there to ensure children don’t fall through the cracks once it is safe to return to the classroom.