Anywhere from April 16th-23rd, schools-elementary, high school, even colleges have been forced to close their doors for the safety of their students and the faculty. This is happening is 48/50 states, though in 7 states(FL, CA, TN, KY, SD, & ID) it has only been recommended that schools close in some areas. These closures are affecting an estimated 56+ million students from both public and private schools.

The students most profoundly affected by this huge disruption are the high school graduating class of 2020. High school seniors should be focusing on their school work and thinking about college/university. Instead, they have been dealt a terrible hand for the end of their high school journey.

What is this crisis affecting most for seniors?

Many will be worried about how the pandemic is going to affect their college admissions, graduation, and any other future plans they may have in the works. The emergency need for remote education has left students feeling very disconnected from their friends. Typical senior year rites of passage have been taken away; championships, prom, final band/orchestra concerts, end-of-years plays, and walking down that aisle in their cap and gown.

Worse yet; no one really knows when things will start returning to normal. Seniors are wondering, “what’s going to happen to my freshman year of college? Will I get to attend? Will I need to go remote for even longer?” Educators and the government have no real answers for them. This is probably the most terrifying aspect of this whole situation for them. For them this means that the adults in their lives, who they depend on, can’t give them the answers that they so desperately want. Many students are feeling like they have no control over their lives and that does terrible things to someone’s mental health. Seniors feel like they don’t have any choices anymore and that is stifling for them.

How can parents help their children?

To start with, parents need to make sure their high school graduates stay safe and healthy. So they need to make sure that their children are following health guidelines and observing social distancing. Emphasize that no matter how they feel about the lockdown, their safety is the most important thing.

Support them with any remote schooling that they need to do. Even if this necessity for online classes extends to their time in college, remind them that their health and the health of their family are on the line.

Parents need to let their children know that they understand how they are feeling about all of this. Make the effort to speak with them about what they think about everything and talk about what they are concerned about most right now. Seniors need all the support they can get, and they need to know they aren’t alone in this.

Never invalidate how they are feeling. If your child starts to open up about how this whole mess is making them feel, or they talks about their worries, validate them. Makes sure they understand that their feelings are normal and that you know things are hard for them. They will be feeling frustrated and disappointed- parents need to support them in any way they can.

Encourage self-care; now more than ever. Not only do high school seniors need support from outside; they need to take care of and support themselves as well. Allowing time for mindfulness exercises and self-reflection can really help students settle better during this difficult time. Our children are the future. The 2020 high school graduates are going to need all the support we can give them, so we should help out in any way we can.

Notre Dame’s solution to keep students safe and in class

Notre Dame already has a plan for continuing physical classes for the coming school year. The Fall 2020 semester is going to be starting in the summer. Classes will begin on August 10, 2020. The university president says that there will be a social distancing policy as well as a mandatory mask policy. The students won’t be taking any breaks from classes, and the semester will be finished before Thanksgiving!