The decision by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine that schools in the state would not return to classes this year and would instead finish using remote or distance learning left many people wondering — will the local classes of 2020 be holding a graduation ceremony?
In addition to the governor’s decision, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) gave guidance last week, informing districts they should hold off on a traditional graduation ceremony for the class and instead try to hold these events virtually or try alternate plans.
“This difficult decision was made in consultation with our local authorities and was not taken lightly,” Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis wrote in a letter to the district on Tuesday. “We are committed to recognizing our graduating seniors in a manner that honors each student in a safe and responsible way, while prioritizing the health needs of students, their families and the community. We share in the disappointment for our seniors, but believe we have developed a hybrid graduation ceremony that will honor them in a special way under these unique circumstances.”
Currently, the district has laid some basic plans for a “hybrid” graduation ceremony. Cap and gown pick-up as well as senior laptop return will be May 11 from 12-3 p.m. Students will pull up to the front of the high school in the parent drop-off circle and students must remain in their cars. Each senior will have the opportunity to walk across the graduation platform and receive his or her diploma during a scheduled time slot on either May 15, 16, or 17. Four family members may accompany the graduate and an electronic picture will be provided to each graduate.
“A video compilation of the ceremony will be produced and released on May 31 at 1 p.m. on the district website and Facebook page,” Lewis wrote. “More specific details will be communicated with the seniors and their families soon. All plans will adhere to the social distancing guidelines established by the order of the Governor. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Congratulations to the class of 2020. Go Panthers!”
At Washington Court House City Schools, Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton said they were working on some plans prior to the new guidance from the ODE, but needed to reevaluate these plans this week.
“As new guidance was dictated by the Ohio Department of Education on Friday, our team started this week off first thing this morning with discussions on this new directive, as well as how it can and will affect our options,” Patton wrote via email on Monday evening. “While it was a bit of a wrench in some of our plans, we’re confident that we’ll be able to make our 134th Commencement Exercises as meaningful as ever, even with these new instructions. We’re still a few days away from a finalized plan as we want to make sure that all facets of the celebrations give the Washington High School Class of 2020 the proper recognition and honors they have earned while maintaining adherence to ODE and Governor DeWine’s restrictions. These plans will be communicated as soon as they have been confirmed.”
The information in this article was provided by Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis and Washington Court House City Schools Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton.
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.