Coronavirus crisis leaves high school seniors wondering about prom, graduation

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — As the world adapts to life during the coronavirus pandemic, many people are finding ways to adjust to this new normal. That includes high school seniors who’ve had to put their lives on hold.

While efforts to get the virus under control continue, it’s unclear when or even if schools will reopen, giving some students a sense of loss.

“I don’t even know if I’ll have a graduation or a prom or even get to go back to school,” Portsmouth High School senior Max Dooley said Wednesday.

Dooley is a member of student council and said if school was in session, he’d be working with others to get ready for prom.

“We’ve got a lot of work to get that up and running. We’ve been fundraising for literally four years,” he added.

Dr. Gerrit van Schalkwyk, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and chief of the Adolescent Unit at Butler Hospital in Providence, said it’s normal for Dooley and other students to feel upset.

“It’s not what anybody would want to be going through, particularly at a time in your life when there are so many opportunities to be socially engaged and connected,” he said.

Dooley said he’s mostly looking forward to graduation.

“That’s really just a once-in-a-lifetime moment, to be able to have your family see you do that and just the ultimate ending to high school,” he said.

Dooley and his mom Krista said they’re trying to stay optimistic but hope the community will be able to celebrate such important milestones in a different way.

“We will definitely be thinking outside the box, as long as we’re following the guidelines of what we’re allowed to do,” Krista said.

Story continues below video extra

VIDEO NOW: Extended interview with Max and mom on senior year uncertainties

Dr. Tanuja Gandhi, a psychiatrist at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, agrees.

“I think it might be a moment to think about how we could use social media more effectively, creatively and in a positive way,” she said.

The Dooleys said they understand and support the steps being taken to keep everyone safe and encouraged others to heed the advice from state officials.

Coronavirus: Coverage and Resources

COVID-19 Tracking: Maps, Charts, Interactive Data | Projection Models | Find a Testing Site Near You | School Updates | Latest Headlines

RI Coronavirus Hotline: (401) 222-8022 | Work-Related Questions: (401) 462-2020 | Mental Health Assistance: (401) 414-5465

Coronavirus: Latest Headlines

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