PORTSMOUTH — In their statement given to public and private school districts across Ohio, Friday, the Ohio Department of Education advised that the state’s schools conduct their 2020 graduation ceremonies remotely in adherence to the federal social distancing guidelines and Ohio’s stay-at-home order.
“School leaders should conduct graduation ceremonies and other recognition events in a remote manner that honors each student in a safe and responsible way, prioritizing the health needs of students, their families and the community,” the statement from the Dept. of Education read.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made the following statement Monday, April 20, during his daily news conference, praising the level of creativity Ohio schools have had to show in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its’ side effects on everyday life for their students.
“The gathering of significant numbers of people is a dangerous situation,” DeWine said. “Just as schools have been innovative in regard to how to teach from a distance, I know that they will be innovative as they look at how…they honor the students…”
Monday, April 20, also was the night each of Scioto County’s 12 high schools conducted their “Lights on for 2020 seniors” night of celebration by turning on the field lights for their field and driving in a parade-like ceremony. This sentiment was led by OHSAA member schools and served as a way for schools to honor their seniors following the concrete cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season.
As of Sunday, April 26, just three of Scioto County’s 13 K-12 school districts offered firm updates as to how they’ll honor the graduating Class of 2020.
The Minford Local School District announced their ceremony would take place in person SundaySunday, May 24, in the form of limited contact graduation with just four members of the immediate family of the graduate allowed to be present.
The New Boston Local School District announced via Facebook that its’ graduation ceremony would take place Friday, May 15, and would be held virtually.
The Wheelersburg Local School District announced it has postponed its’ graduation ceremony to Saturday, June 27, although that date is subject to change if stay-at-home order is changed.
East, Green, Northwest, Notre Dame, Portsmouth West school districts have provided no update as of yet in regards to their May 17 scheduled date of graduation. Portsmouth STEM Academy and South Webster High School are in the process of deciding how best to honor their seniors whose graduation ceremonies and dates are currently up in the air.
Portsmouth and Valley school district’s graduations are scheduled for Saturday, May 23, while Clay’s graduation date is currently set for May 24.
In Friday’s statement encouraging against in-person graduation ceremonies, the ODE listed the following reasons large gatherings such as these might not be permitted, even if a school’s ceremony that’s been postponed until later in the calendar year.
- With each change of venue and/or calendar delay (July or later graduation ceremony), there is no guarantee that large gatherings will be permitted, and there is a risk of fewer students actually participating due to other life plans such as beginning employment, attending college, military enlistment, etc.
- In-person events add to the complexity of asking students to comply with social distancing, as these events often are highly emotional, invoking natural physical responses (such as high fives and hugs).
- In-person events, even if only for participants, can lead to other people (family members, relatives, friends) wanting to physically attend, even though not permitted to do so.
- Pressure is unintentionally put on other high schools (principals, superintendents and board members) that have chosen to conduct events virtually rather than in person.
The Daily Times will continue updating its’ readers of official changes to graduation ceremonies for local school districts as information becomes available.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved