One family’s challenges

The Taylor family must deal with more than protecting themselves amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The family has had two graduations canceled and a college student in Utah experience a recent earthquake.


Local News

March 20, 2020 - 4:51 PM

The Taylor family is dealing with two missed graduations because of cancellations caused by the pandemic and an earthquake in Salt Lake City where two daughters attend college. From left are Ella, Olivia, Jen, Ben, Jesse and Abigail. Courtesy photo

The efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus in the educational systems hit the family of Jen and Ben Taylor with a triple whammy.

First, daughters Abigail and Olivia learned their classes at Brigham Young University would be shifted to online-only after spring break, and Abigail’s graduation was canceled.

Next, uncertainty began to mount as USD 257 pondered what to do with classes after spring break. Jen Taylor serves on the school board, so she knew difficult decisions would be coming. She wondered how much would be within the local board’s control.

Then came the decision that all face-to-face classes would be canceled for all Kansas schools.

That meant another graduation — this time, for Iola High School senior Ella Taylor — would be canceled.

“We had kind of been prepared for this, since we already had one graduation canceled,” Jen said. “It’s still just sad. I know what graduation is like and what that celebration is like and how cool it is. They worked so hard for this, and you want them to have that moment.”

There’s also Jesse, a freshman at IHS. He had qualified for state forensics, and is sad to miss that.

Ben Taylor is a physical therapist at Allen County Regional Hospital.

Meanwhile, Jen and other school board members, along with school administrators, are working to make sure learning can continue in some form, even with the closing of schools.

“There’s so many balls in the air right now,” she said. “As for coping, sometimes you can’t even look a day ahead. Let’s just take it one hour at a time.”

ON TOP of the fast-spreading coronavirus, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck Salt Lake City, home of BYU, Wednesday morning. Abigail and Olivia weren’t affected, but it added to the worry for family and friends.

“My phone has been blowing up. We were not planning on an earthquake. Let’s just get through this hour with no more earthquakes, no more cancellations,” Jen said Wednesday. 

The girls are staying put, finishing their semester online. They both have jobs and lots of extended family in Utah.

“Utah is a really long ways away. But they have a really good support system, so we all just felt better about them staying there,” Jen said.

The family is looking for the positives, such as the fact that they are part of a rural community where neighbors are more like friends and family.

“We’re lucky we have yards and trails. We can go outside and work on a garden,” she said. “It’s scary. It can be overwhelming for adults, let alone for kids, so we have to do what we can to make it normal. Although I don’t know what normal is right now.”

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