EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Opinion: The new normal for schools just isn’t the same

Apr 15, 2020, 9:57 AM | Updated: 12:04 pm
new normal for schools...
2020 graduates won't get a traditional ceremony - or if they do, it won't be on time. Photo: Getty Images

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Students and teachers took time to come on my KSL NewsRadio show this afternoon to reflect on the decision to extend the “soft” school closures to combat COVID-19.

We listened to high school seniors talk about online learning as a replacement for their final semester, and one thought kept running through my head:  They don’t know what they’re missing.

The new normal for schools

While home school families have this drill down, the vast majority of public school families all over the Utah have struggled mightily with the abrupt end of classroom learning. The announcement from the governor stuck a fork in senior year, and cancelled countless spring memories to come.

Educators believe learning at home is working but it is emotionally difficult. Tell that to the Class of 2020. Kelsey Nelson, a senior at Westlake high school, told Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News: “I never thought I would have to deal with missing my graduation.”

Decades later, I still remember the parties, the senior events, and the visceral thrill of hearing my name called on that warm evening. It’s a feeling these seniors will never experience. That Graduation ceremony provides a definitive “before” and “after” but this year, it will be diminished as students cross  into the future on a laptop screen.

Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News airs weekdays at 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio 

A message for seniors

Heidi Mathews, from the Utah Education Association, spoke to seniors about their disappointment:

We love you and congratulations. While right now it seems hard right now, the ceremonies and the celebrations, and the rituals, that you will have Class of 2020, will be far greater than any of us have ever had. Because none of us have graduated in a pandemic. The bonds you will have moving forward and the memories of what was really valuable about your experience in public education are going to be so important.

To put it another way? They don’t know what they’re missing.

Heidi Mathews is right. None of us has ever graduated in a pandemic, and we don’t know what it’s like.  But we can see the disappointment etched on their faces, as we try to comfort these kids with words that escape us.

But they’re strong, these kids. They’re not the first to face adversity and they won’t be the last.  Sadly, their lasting memories of their senior year will be Zoom chats and Tik Tok.  All we can do is offer them a warm shoulder and weak assurance that there are still great memories to come.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Education + Schools

A House panel is endorsing a new Utah law, H.B. 102, which extends resident college tuition rates t...
Devin Oldroyd

New Utah law could extend in-state tuition to refugees & asylum seekers

A House panel is endorsing a new Utah law, H.B. 102, which extends resident college tuition rates to refugees and political asylum seekers.
2 days ago
Juliette Bautista Barahona is a firm believer that tech is for everyone. It's the basis of her nonp...
Sydnee Gonzalez

Empowering Latina moms to find a place in STEM, despite barriers

Juliette Bautista Barahona offers STEM classes at her nonprofit Club Ability for low-income families, minorities and others.
2 days ago
The Utah Education Association is opposed to H. B. 215. The UEA says school choice and a teacher pa...
Devin Oldroyd

School choice bill is “limiting” public schools, UEA president says

Utah Education Association president Renee Pinkney says the controversial school choice bill is "weakening" and "limiting" public schools.
3 days ago
Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork is pictured on Friday March 12, 2021. Students at Spanish ...
Mark Jones

Concurrent enrollment provides students with options in Nebo School District

Programs such as concurrent enrollment can give high school students and their parents options.
3 days ago
artificial intelligence banjo...
Curt Gresseth

ChatGPT: Plagiarism super-tool for students or AI brainstorming generator?

Will the future of AI be the interactive chatbot ChatGPT helping cheaters ace exams and tests or a new tool to assist all students in learning?
3 days ago
Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, l...
Simone Seikaly

Three teens in custody after fight, shooting at Taylorsville High

Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, leading to lockdown and lockout procedures.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Opinion: The new normal for schools just isn’t the same