A year ago, it was a heartbreaking progression of cancellations: high school proms, traditional commencement ceremonies, concerts and baseball games.
Today, the outlook is uplifting. Fort Wayne Community Schools announced this week its high schools will hold proms this spring. In-person commencements are scheduled for the high schools and at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Thursday was opening day for Major League Baseball.
PFW announced Wednesday it is reversing a decision made just a month earlier. A traditional commencement ceremony is now scheduled for June 18 at Memorial Coliseum and will include 2020 graduates, whose recognition last year was limited to a drive-through diploma distribution.
“The rapid expansion and success of the state's vaccination program over the past few weeks, combined with the enthusiasm of our Student Government Association to revisit the possibility of moving our commencement ceremony back to Memorial Coliseum, allowed us to pursue options that simply didn't seem possible or even prudent at the beginning of March,” Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer said in a statement.
But options that emerged over the past month can just as easily disappear over the next month if COVID-19 cases continue to rise. The trajectory of Indiana's positive case curve is beginning to show an all-too-familiar climb, with 1,241 cases reported Thursday, the highest number since Feb. 19. Hospitalizations also are on the rise.
While the number of Hoosiers who are fully vaccinated has passed 1.16 million, that's a long way from the 80% herd immunity that is targeted to stop the virus' spread. Before the vaccine was available, masks and social distancing were our only tools. They were effective in flattening the curve.
Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter said Thursday he won't institute a mask mandate when the state mandate expires next week. That's no reason to let down your guard. Let's make sure students have the chance to attend their proms and commencements. Let's make sure we all have the chance to return to the joys of everyday life.