One of the strangest but most important parts of the 2019-2020 school year was the outbreak of the biggest pandemic in a century. The novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 infected millions of people around the world and killed hundreds of thousands. Fortunately we at Garrigan stayed safe, but the "social distancing" restrictions changed almost everything about our lives.
Like almost all schools around the world, Bishop Garrigan was closed for the entire 4th quarter. Unlike most Iowa schools, Bishop Garrigan arranged for online learning from Day 1 of the closure. Learning continued through platforms like YouTube, Zoom, Google Classroom, and Facebook. Special accommodations were made, but students finished up their classes as scheduled and received full credit and grades for their work.
The Golden Bears played the boys state basketball championship in a nearly empty arena in Des Moines. All spring sports were cancelled, as were the state speech and music contests. The music department cancelled their trip to New York, the national DECA conference was cancelled, and national quiz bowl was moved to a "virtual" event. Mass was streamed online, as was the annual Gala fundraiser. Prom and graduation were moved to the middle of summer.
Away from school many stores were closed, and those that were open had reduced hours and other restrictions. Restaurant dining rooms were shut down, with food served only at curbside or through drive-throughs. Parks, playgrounds, and movie theaters were closed, and gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited. Almost every sporting event, concert, or other big gathering was cancelled. Even the 2020 Olympics were postponed. For almost two months everyone was asked to just stay at home.
In addition to working on their classes, BGHS students helped care for their little brothers and sisters, and many of them continued working in essential jobs like grocery stockers, nurse's aides, and farming. Several helped create virtual "read-alouds" for younger kids to enjoy. Being away from their friends for so long made it a tough time for everyone, but it was certainly a time nobody will forget.