On Wednesday and Thursday, trying to bring back a sense of community, students and volunteers visited each of the 408 seniors from East High School who will graduate under trying times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when students were anticipating celebrating graduation with friends and family, precautions for the pandemic forced Utah schools to enforce a soft closure in mid-March.

Nearly two dozen groups consisting of student body officers, a teacher and a PTA parent fanned out throughout the neighborhood to visit the school’s seniors and connect face to face with a student body represented by 37 languages. The seniors received a personalized yard sign, donated flower bouquets and embroidered blankets.

As the groups visited the seniors, some answered the door sleepy-eyed. And another exclaimed, “I am so happy to see you!” as it took her a minute to recognize her photography teacher behind the mask.

Utah schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Official graduation ceremonies will be held virtually.