Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, count us among those who are glad to see 2020 come to an end. It was a tough year for everyone. As the year ends, we think of:

• Those who have lost family members or friends to the virus.

• Those who have been separated from family members or friends because of the virus.

• Our businesses which struggled to remain open in 2020.

• Teachers and students who had their school year disrupted in ways they never imagined.

We also think of those people who have had friendships fractured with relatives and friends over political divisions in a year that saw perhaps the most contentious presidential election in our lifetime.

We believe 2021 can be a year of healing and hope. Whether or not it is depends on all of us.

First, we have to get COVID-19 under control. Continue practicing mitigation steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Contact your health professionals to see when the vaccine will be available for you to receive.

Take care of those family members and friends who suffered the loss of a loved one last year. A phone call, a letter or card, a visit when it’s safe to do so can help. You may find that besides helping the person grieving their loss, it may help you too.

As more of us are vaccinated and positive COVID-19 cases diminish, it will be time to patronize local businesses. While we found ways to do that during 2020, we know it wasn’t the same as it used to be in the days before the virus. May 2021 be the year that you not only stop in and shop at your favorite store, but that you may run into friends doing the same thing. That didn’t happen much in 2020.

Our area schools have done a remarkable job finding ways to hold in-person classes while accommodating those students not ready to return to school buildings. May we remember in the new year the great work done by our administrators, teachers, paraeducators, custodians, cooks, bus drivers and everyone else associated with schools that made that happen.

This new year brings a new administration to the White House. Here is hoping that this is the year friends and family members can find common ground when it comes to politics. A pandemic couldn’t stop democracy. Iowans voted in record numbers in November, proving once again that democracy is important to Iowans. Don’t let the outcome of that election ruin relationships.

Let’s remember how we got through 2020. When so many of our friends and neighbors needed help, others answered the call. When businesses devised different ways to sell their products, many of us responded by supporting their efforts. When the pandemic paused in-person religious services, many churches found other ways to bring their community of believers together.

So we welcome 2021, not only for the hope and healing we see possible in the new year, but also as a chance to put in place the lessons we learned in 2020.

May 2021 be a year of hope, healing and goodwill toward all.

— The “Our Opinion” column is the consensus of the editorial board. For information or comments, contact a member of the board: Beth Lutgen, Mary Ungs-Sogaard or Mike Putz