COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday clarified that high school graduations can’t be permitted if they amount to mass gatherings.
The Republican governor said the most preferred option is a virtual ceremony conducted online, followed by a drive-in ceremony allowing students to arrive at designated locations at designated times to pick up a diploma, followed by gatherings of 10 people or fewer.
“Mass gatherings can’t be held,” DeWine said Wednesday, correcting a statement a day earlier when he said graduation ceremonies would be up to schools as long as proper social distancing was followed.
“While it’s time to graduate, it’s not time to have a graduation party,” he added. “That will have to wait.”
Locally, Miami Trace has made 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. Additionally, 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.
At Washington Court House City Schools, plans are still being developed so they can honor the class of 2020. Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton said the recent guidance from the Ohio Department of Education did change their plans, but he was confident they would find a solution to honor the seniors both safely and as meaningful as always. He encouraged the students to continue to watch out for updates coming soon as they finalize their plans.
In other coronavirus-related developments in Ohio:
The state has 937 presumptive or confirmed deaths, and more than 17,300 cases, including more than 3,400 hospitalizations, the Ohio Health Department reported Wednesday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
DeWine said the state has acquired and distributed 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment throughout Ohio, believed to be the largest in Ohio history.
The equipment is being distributed to emergency management agencies across the state and from there to nursing homes, jails and other places with many people grouped together, the governor said.
Ohio will continue to buy equipment on the open market when possible and have it made in Ohio when it can’t, DeWine said.
Finding the equipment and getting it to the people who need it most continues to be necessary because “this virus unfortunately is going to be with us for a while,” DeWine said.
Youngstown State University followed the lead of several other universities and announced it’s waiving ACT and SAT test scores as a requirement for admission because testing for those exams has been canceled during the pandemic.
The change remains in place through next year’s spring semester.
The University of Dayton announced it will furlough about 450 employees and lay off an additional 60 workers this summer, the Dayton Daily News reported. The university notified affected employees this week.
Two prison employees and 23 Ohio prison inmates have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
More than 2,000 inmates out of about 2,500 at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive to date, while more than 1,500 of about 2,000 have tested positive at Pickaway Correctional Institution, where 16 of the inmates who died were housed.