Iowa students, particularly seniors, have been robbed this year. Their memories have been stolen before they were made.

Things like prom, final concerts and performances, final games with teammates and, of course, graduation are milestones many of us look back on fondly. It’s not fair that students this year won’t have the chance to make those memories, that they have been stolen by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to prevent large crowds.

Senior years are supposed to end with a bang, not a whimper and a whiff of fear that arrives before spring break. That’s how it has always seemed to be. But it’s something this generation just learned can’t be taken for granted.

It goes beyond students. Parents who looked forward to their children’s graduation will not have the chance to celebrate as they had long planned. Family gatherings will be truncated or eliminated to protect people who would otherwise have celebrated with the new graduates.

It’s hard to put into words how fundamentally wrong this all feels. There is something in the soul that screams “No!” in response to an announcement many had expected, but still landed with a shock. This isn’t supposed to happen. It’s not supposed to be this way.

Yet it is this way.

And, for all we know, the disruptions may well continue with next year’s class.

The fundamental unfairness of the situation is compounded by the fact there isn’t an easy target to blame. We all know the cause. But it’s hard to gin up the personalized blame this situation cries out for against a single-celled virus.

When there’s no name to go with the blame, it’s harder to handle. It’s not as if a virus cares what we call it — and there are plenty of unprintable terms we’d like to print as descriptions here.

That will lead some to lash out at targets who don’t deserve it. Some will inevitably attack Gov. Kim Reynolds, who announced the closure of Iowa schools for the remainder of the school year on Friday. Reynolds’ response has not been perfect. There are legitimate criticisms that can be leveled. But this is not one of them. It was the right decision, if a painful one.

There can be only sorrow for those affected by the decision on schools. This school year will create lasting scars for teachers and students, the effects of which will be felt for years.

It’s not right. It’s not fair that students are being asked to shoulder burdens that are heavy for those with many more years of experience. Worse, they’re not being given a choice. None of us are.

This is a real loss. We mourn with the students who have lost what should have been some of the happiest experiences of their young lives. We mourn with their parents, with their families.

We mourn with those who have lost loved ones to this pandemic.

There will come a day when this ends. There will be a time when the clouds lift. But it is not today.

Today we mourn.

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