By CRISTINA JANNEY
When the class of 2020 left school last week, they didn't realize that it would be for the last time.
Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Tuesday all school buildings would be closed for the rest of the spring semester over concerns of spread of the coronavirus.
The Kansas High School Activities Association also has canceled the spring sports season.
In a letter issued to families Friday, HHS Principal Martin Straub said staff met to develop plans for continuous education Friday morning.
The Kansas State Board of Education requires 21 credits to graduate. Local boards have the authority to require that students earn more than 21 credits to graduate, the KSBE said in a news release Thursday.
However, during this time, districts that require more credits than the state requirement may elect to revert to the 21-credit-hour threshold that the State Board of Education established, the KSBE said. USD 489 has not made an announcement yet about its plans.
Many Hays High School and Thomas More Prep-Marian students are now expressing sadness about not being able to honor senior year traditions, play baseball or run track.
Brock Lummus, HHS senior, was gearing up for his last season playing high school baseball.
"It is really devastating not to be able to finish the whole senior year," he said. "Not getting to play, it hit me hard, but it is what it is."
Lummus and others are considering the senior traditions they will miss.
"Prom, graduation — I think every senior is sad that the class won't get to experience that," he said.
Avery Jones, HHS senior, said she didn't think she would miss school so much.
"I never thought I would be crying about school being closed," she said. "Me and all my friends are really, really sad."
"Friday was our last day, and we really didn't realize it," she said. "That was probably the last my class will be all together. We didn't know we wouldn't be together interacting everyday."
Jones has kept connected to her classmates through social media, but said she is basically at home for the next two weeks in observance of coronavirus precautions.
She said she will be missing the last steps of her senior year.
"I think I am going to miss graduation more than anything," she said.
She added she was not angry about the school closing.
"I understand that it is a cautionary thing," she said.
MK Dwyer, TMP senior, is missing her senior track season.
"I think the hardest thing is to know my junior year at state track was the last time for me to go out on a track and compete," she said. "I'm having trouble processing that. It has been a whirlwind of emotions."
She said she hoped TMP would work out some way to reschedule graduation.
"I think all of us are going to miss that. I don’t know anyone who didn't want to walk across the graduation stage," she said.
"We aren't going to be able to walk the halls together for one last time or take finals all together," she said. "We all took it for granted. Now we don't get to."
Many of the girls in Dwyer's class had purchased prom dress, and now prom is canceled.
Dwyer said she misses seeing her friends in the hall everyday, but they continue stay in contact through their phones and social media.
"We are a small class, but I think it has brought us together even more," she said. "When this settles down, we'll figure something out and hang out one last time."
Landon Summers, HHS senior, said he was also disappointed he would not be able to see his friends again and have an opportunity to say goodbye.
"It's unfortunate," he said, "but I am ready to start a new chapter and the adult phase of my life."
He said he sees a bright side to the school closure.
Summers is joining the Marines. He is set to leave for bootcamp on June 8.
"It's more time I can spend at home with my family," he said, " without being rushed off to bootcamp."
Although the class of 2020 is expressing sadness that their senior year has come to abrupt end, the other seniors are also looking toward their futures.
Lummus has signed to play baseball with Butler Community College. He plans to study sports medicine.
He is hoping the coronavirus crisis will pass in time for him to play summer baseball.
Jones is finishing college concurrent courses online and plans to study graphic design in the fall at Fort Hays State University.
Dwyer plans to study nursing at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. She said watching health care providers care for coronavirus patients has strengthened her desire to pursue a career in the medical field.
"Life has become crazy, and they are helping everyone in the epidemic," she said. "They are helping every single person."