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Mother and child reading a book together in a tent set up outside

Celebrating the End of the Pandemic School Year

COVID-19 Scheduling Update (5/21/21): Currently, OhioHealth is scheduling vaccinations for those 12 and above. Vaccine recipients younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all appointments. You can schedule your appointment through OhioHealth MyChart, or by calling the OhioHealth COVID-19 vaccine hotline at (614) 533-6999 weekdays from 8 AM to 4 PM For the latest information regarding scheduling, visit the OhioHealth COVID-19 Vaccination Page.

On January 21, 2020, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the United States’ first case of COVID-19. For some, this may feel like yesterday. For others, a decade has passed. COVID-19 devastated not only our country, but the entire world, sparking the first global pandemic in a century.

In the midst of tragedy, scientists, researchers, healthcare professionals and leaders have prevailed. And now, 16 months after our first confirmed case of COVID-19, our country is getting its first taste of life prior to COVID-19. The CDC officially states that if you are fully vaccinated, as in two weeks after your first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance (except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations).

With the arrival of this news, we can’t help but think of our students and educators who spent majority, if not all, of this past year learning and working from home. Last year, monumental events like prom and graduation were cancelled. And while this year may not be ending completely back to normal, it doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate all your students have accomplished.

Here are a few ideas to recognize the hard work of the students in your life, for all ages. 

Teenager in graduation robe and cap

Graduating high school and college seniors

Have a graduation photo shoot

Having a graduation photoshoot only requires a few things – the senior, a camera of any kind, and a photographer (or just a family member).

Have your senior dress up in one of their favorite outfits or their cap and gown, and take photos around your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be all serious, either. Get creative and showcase how life has changed because of this stay-at-home order. Maybe you capture your Netflix nights or TikTok bloopers!

Hold a virtual graduation

If you have family members that are still waiting to become fully vaccinated, why not host a virtual graduation ceremony? Your child and family members or friends can write funny or sentimental speeches, talk about the past few years and share what they’re looking forward to as the pandemic approaches its end.

Organize a parade

Coordinate a neighborhood-wide senior drive through. Residents can cheer on the seniors from their front yard, praising their accomplishments as they drive by. High school seniors could decorate their cars to match where they’re going to college or highlight their post-graduation plans.

Teenager looking through homework with adult

High school

Throw a prom at home

Was your student’s prom cancelled or had limited capacity prior to the CDC’s newest mitigation strategies announcement? Help them throw a virtual one with their friends. Decorate the house, create a fun playlist and help them dress up. They can video chat with their friends while they dance and reminisce. Your whole family can get in on the fun, too. Just dress up along with them!

Make a summer bucket list

Give your kids something to look forward to with a summer bucket list. If you missed out on visiting your favorite sunny vacation spot last year, take your fully vaccinated family on the trip of a lifetime! Or, stick around town as local activities can be just as fun. Try taking on a small renovation project, learn a new skill, go to all the parks nearby or start a garden. The possibilities are endless!

Two middle school aged children working on homework at table

Middle school

Have a movie night with friends

Celebrate the end of the school year with a movie night and invite your kids’ friends. If your student’s friends are still waiting to become fully vaccinated, try using TeleParty, a Google Chrome extension. TeleParty lets you watch your favorite shows and movies with friends who have Netflix, Hulu, HBO or Disney Plus! Make some snacks and settle in for some fun!

Grill and go camping

Nothing says summer like a cookout and camping! Plan a fun dinner with your student’s favorite dishes and camp out under the stars. If your family prefers the great indoors, it’s rainy, or the closest outdoor space is shared with others, set up a campsite in your house! Roll out some blankets, roast (or microwave) some s’mores, and play games as a family to kick off summer. 

Child being helped with schoolwork by teacher

Preschool and elementary school

Send your teachers a thank you note or video

Online school and hybrid models were unexpected changes for teachers, too. Show your appreciation for all they do, and especially for helping your students and you get through this past year. Your kids can make cards by hand or you can film a video of them telling their teachers how much they mean to them. This is an easy and simple way to make a teacher’s day – they miss their students!

Have an end-of-year video chat with your class

Host a goodbye party during the last day of school. Give the party a theme for an extra element of fun! They could all eat an ice cream sundae, do a happy dance, wear a costume, have crazy hair or share their favorite moment from the school year.

Inspired by this blog? Take pictures of your family creating moments together. Post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag @OhioHealth. Creating joy and bonding with those we love play important roles in achieving our best health.

The information in this article was updated May 21, 2021, and aligns with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the latest information concerning COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.