CLEVELAND (WJW)– The Ohio Department of Education has directed school districts statewide to hold high school graduation ceremonies virtually instead of in person this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and restrictions limiting large gatherings.

The Department released a statement to school districts Thursday asking them to honor students in a way that doesn’t pose health risks, noting schools should continue to recognize the importance of restrictions on mass gatherings and events should abide by Ohio’s stay at home order.

“While we understand the significance, tradition and rites of passage many of these events represent, particularly for our seniors, schools should hold events virtually rather than conducting in-person events of this type, and record these events whenever possible and practicable. Congregate graduation ceremonies should not be held,” the statement said.

The Department said in-person events may lead to negative consequences.

Its statement notes there’s no guarantee large gatherings will be permitted later in the year, and students may be unable to attend delayed events due to other life commitments. It also states that maintaining social distancing would be challenging, especially considering the highly emotional nature of the events.

The Department said districts holding in-person graduation ceremonies put pressure on other schools that have chosen to hold events virtually.

WJW in Cleveland reports graduating seniors in one local school district are protesting their
virtual commencement.

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