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Ohio Department of Education issues statement urging virtual graduation ceremonies

After fielding various questions from educators, students and parents, Ohio Department of Education offered answers and recommendations on end-of-year ceremonies.

CLEVELAND — Over the last month, life has certainly changed for Americans across the country amid the COVID-19 crisis, especially for graduating high school seniors.

Not only has the school year officially ended after a ruling handed down by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, proms are being called off and now the state is addressing graduation commencements and end-of-year recognition ceremonies.

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Education issued a statement urging schools to hold virtual graduation ceremonies rather than conducting in-person events .

"Educators, students and parents are questioning whether they should attempt to hold in-person events of this nature," the Ohio Department of Education said in a statement. "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 Ohio Department of Education did urge schools to offer virtual end-of-year recognition ceremonies and even graduation ceremonies.

"We are asking the education community to come together and honor our students, especially our seniors, in a manner that doesn't pose health risks to anyone," the statement read. "Schools should continue to recognize the importance of restrictions on mass gatherings, and events should be aligned with the Ohio Department of Health's Order."

The Ohio Department of Education also recommended school leaders to 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."

Along with the end of the current academic year, the OHSAA officially canceled the remainder of the spring sports schedule earlier in the week.

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