For thousands of pupils and students the coming days and past few weeks should have been filled with excitement and emotion.
Leavers coming to the end of their school careers should have planned prom outfits, proud parents should have shed tears watching children presented with prizes for achievement.
Youngsters should have said farewell to teachers and classmates at end-of-term services and students finishing college and university should have donned robes to collect their certificates.
Coronavirus has robbed a generation of children and young people of enjoying life milestones, when they shared with friends the excitement of starting high school or moving onto college, university or the world of work.
Sophie Paterson, 11, is among P7s to have missed out on rites of passage, including a trip to Broomlea outdoor education centre, near Edinburgh.
The Lundin Mill Primary School pupil, who lives in Lundin Links, Fife, said she was “sad and disappointed” to have been denied her final term with friends at primary school.
Mum Rhona said: “They’ve missed out on all their transition days, they’ve missed their trip to Broomlea where they would have met all their new classmates.
They’ve missed their leavers ceremony, their final sports day. It’s all been taken away from them.”
Rhona Paterson, a mum
“They’ve missed their leavers ceremony, their final sports day.
“It’s all been taken away from them.”
When Sophie visited her new school, Waid Academy, Anstruther, this week, she was one of only three pupils on a double decker bus. All wore face masks.
Rhona said: “I feel anxious for the kids for the fact they haven’t had more opportunities to go but I’m glad they have had a chance to go to school on the bus so they know where they are going and what’s going to happen.”
Lochgelly High School pupil Bailey-Lee Robb, 18, said: “Prom has been cancelled for a lot of pupils across Fife. It’s sad but people understand it has to be done.”
Being unable to see friends before heading off to Edinburgh University to study social policy has been a struggle for Bailey-Lee but he hopes they will eventually be able to celebrate the end of their school years.
Prom has been cancelled for a lot of pupils across Fife. It’s sad but people understand is has to be done.”
Bailey-Lee Robb, 18
He said: “I have hated lockdown. I’m a social butterfly so staying in the house has been horrible for me.”
Schools closed on March 20 just before lockdown began and Bailey-Lee said: “On that last Friday a few of my friends got together to celebrate the end of school. We knew prom was going to be cancelled.
“I know Beath High School wants pupils to come back and celebrate later and other high schools are following suit.”
The High School of Dundee usually marks the achievements of its pupils in grand style in the Caird Hall. This year it turned to Youtube to stage its prize-giving ceremony.
During a virtual ceremony rector Lise Hudson told form six pupils she had looked forward to celebrating with them the events synonymous with leaving school.
She said: “Those important rites of passage, the jokes of the leavers’ assembly, the glamour of leavers’ week and finally getting your moment on the Caird Hall stage and, of course, the rector’s speech. In March those were snatched away from us.”
University students should have graduated in front of friends and family in ceremonies in Dundee and St Andrews this week and next but instead received their certificates through the post.
In place of its ceremony in the Caird Hall on Thursday, Abertay University will send off the class of 2020 with an online stream on July 10.
St Andrews University will hold virtual graduation ceremonies from July 27 to 31.
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