What About COVID?

Photo illustration (c) The Lewis Center for Church Leadership

In late April we polled our classmates to ask, should we schedule our long-delayed 50-ish reunion for this fall, or wait another year?

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of getting together as soon as possible, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many classmates mentioned they were vaccinated and boosted.

At the time we made the decision to go ahead with the reunion — six months ahead of the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 target date — cases of COVID were declining and communities across the United States were rescinding mask mandates. Several other Des Moines high school alumni classes also made the decision to meet this summer and fall, without vaccine or mask mandates.

Now new COVID variants are spreading, and cases are once again on the rise. Some classmates are questioning the wisdom of gathering a bunch of 70-year-olds in the same room during this phase of the pandemic.

We hear you. And please know that members of the Reunion Committee know first-hand about of the risks of COVID.

The current plans are still to gather as safely as possible on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. However, the Reunion Committee is watching the trends and remaining flexible if conditions make a safe gathering impossible.

Be sure to follow www.TRHS1970.com for the latest information about the Tough Riders Return reunion. Any changes to our plans will be posted there first.

NO CRYSTAL BALL

Of course we don’t have a crystal ball to know what COVID conditions will be in two months. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

FACT: If you are vaccinated, it’s far less likely that you will get sick enough to be hospitalized if you get infected. Hundreds of millions of people have received COVID vaccines without serious side effects. Serious side effects CAN occur, but they are extremely rare. COVID vaccines won’t keep you from getting COVID, but vaccinated people are 29X less likely to die of COVID-19 than people who are unvaccinated. We don’t require proof of vaccination to attend, as some other high school alumni classes do, but we highly recommend getting jabbed.

FACT: For some classmates, science was never their favorite class.

FACT: If you are significantly immune compromised, you should NOT risk coming to the reunion in person. We’re working to make the Virtual Reunion as fun and as lively as possible.

FACT: The effectiveness of masks is debated but wearing a filtering mask over your nose and mouth will lessen the chance of sharing the virus. Besides, worn properly, masks can hide wrinkles and sagging jowls, block bad breath, and fog your glasses so you can’t see how old your classmates have gotten. We recommend, but don’t mandate, the wearing of masks.

FACT: The spaces we’ve reserved for both evenings has more than enough room for social distancing. And if the weather cooperates, there’s plenty of outdoor space for socializing.

PLEASE TEST BEFORE ATTENDING

Months ago, when we planned the reunion, we recognized the intensity of opinions and disagreements that generally surround the pandemic. The Reunion Committee decided not to mandate masks, proof of vaccination, or proof of negative testing. If that changes, we will post the information on www.TRHS1970.com.

Thank goodness that rapid test at-home screening tests are now readily available and free https://www.covid.gov/tests. We hope everyone will use at-home screenings before attending. Regardless of your political beliefs, pre-testing can lessen the risk of spreading the virus to vulnerable classmates.

The only mandate is COMMON SENSE.  If you have been exposed to someone with symptoms that might be COVID, or exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID, or have recently had COVID, do a couple of at-home tests the week of the reunion. If you don’t feel well, stay home. Protect your classmates and protect yourself.

MORE FACT CHECKS

Recent Facebook posts brought up questions about the starting time for evening reunion events. Both nights — Friday at the West Des Moines Hilton Garden Inn, and Saturday night at the Waveland Clubhouse — start at 6:30 p.m. Iowa time.

Reminder to classmates: Did we mention that the official source of information about our reunion is the class website? Only a fraction of our classmates use Facebook, so it can’t be used as the main source of reliable information.

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