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2020 Graduation and End-of-Year Events

Letter from Superintendent Ann Schloss, May 1, 2020

 

As we find ourselves in the second month of this stay-at-home arrangement, there is truly nothing more important to say than, “Thank you.”

 

(Please note there is critical information within and toward the end of this message speaking directly to graduation and other upcoming events.) 

 

We recognize that your plates are beyond full in this current environment.

 

As parents, you’ve been tasked with administering the education of your children, in addition to managing home life, work life or, in many cases, facing great uncertainty.

 

Here in Elyria, we see evidence of the struggles people are facing.

 

The demand for food service distribution at Elyria Schools sites is unprecedented.

 

This past week, Second Harvest served 1,000 families through the mobile pantry at Ely Stadium. The Elyria Schools food service program is providing about 40,000 meals each week to children and families throughout the city. Our district is working with the organization PCs for People to provide computers to families in need.

 

We’re also working to be accommodating with the curriculum calendars, fully recognizing the difficulty of this arrangement for parents and students. If at any time you feel burdened by the course load, please reach out to your teachers and principals. It’s critical to maintain communication in this period.

 

Within the school district, we’ve found ourselves taking on new responsibilities and re-prioritizing programs to meet the needs of those in the community.

 

The food service program and computer program are stellar examples.

 

But even as we develop solutions for new challenges, the shifting uncertainties of the coronavirus situation have compelled us to make contingency plans. To be quite frank, we find ourselves making contingency plans for our contingency plans.

 

A leading example of this is high school graduation.

 

A few weeks ago, it appeared the stay-at-home order would be temporary, potentially ending by May 1.

 

Just a week or so ago, it appeared the stay-at-home order would render an in-person high school graduation impossible, given the stringent social distancing guidelines.

 

This past week, however, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine indicated that small gatherings for graduation would indeed be possible—although not entirely encouraged. He emphasized that virtual graduations would be preferred.

 

At Elyria Schools, we recognize safety is a paramount priority.

 

But we must also recognize that once-in-a-lifetime events like graduation cannot be replicated.

 

We are aiming to strike a balance between safety and sensibility.

 

Consequently, we’ve created a timeline of events in May that serve to recognize the graduating Class of 2020.

 

The schedule we’ve developed also outlines activities that are for everybody, such as staff “honk and wave” parades through Elyria’s neighborhoods, virtual spirit weeks, and end-of-year celebrations and presentations (virtual or drive-through).

 

We’ve heard from parents about what these memorable moments mean to them and their students, particularly the monumental transition years such as kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade and, of course, graduation.

 

Nothing will hold a candle to an actual commencement ceremony at Ely Stadium.

 

But under the current restrictions, this year’s event will look dramatically different.

 

The traditional Elyria High School graduation ceremony—originally scheduled for May 27, 2020—has been postponed until at least June. This date is tentative, scheduled to change or facing further postponement depending on directives at the state level.

 

In hopes of engaging our graduating seniors to the fullest extent possible, we are currently working on the logistics of a blended graduation celebration that includes individual presentations in cap and gown on the stage of the Elyria High School Performing Arts Center and a drive-up photo opportunity at Ely Stadium on a separately scheduled day, also individually and in cap and gown.

 

The presentation at Elyria High School will allow for four immediate family members to attend with the graduate at pre-assigned times and dates. Social distancing requirements will be followed.

 

From this program, the district will produce a keepsake video that will air on the district’s YouTube channel. DVD copies can be made available as well.

 

On May 7, graduates can pick up their cap and gown and other important items, such as announcements and senior panoramic pictures. Within the contents of that packet, graduates will receive instructions on scheduling a date and time for them to walk the stage at the Performing Arts Center.

 

Similarly, details will be provided on scheduling a graduation photo moment at the stadium. The stadium component is not required—it is an option for the graduates and their immediate family.

 

Much like the ceremony at EHS, the pictures at Ely Stadium will take place at scheduled times only and they will be limited to individual graduates accompanied by immediate family members.

 

Please keep in mind that this arrangement will not afford an opportunity to remain at the stadium beyond the scheduled time.

 

Families will receive free digital copies of photos taken during the formal celebration and at the stadium.

 

Sensibly, we can make this happen.

 

But it is critical that everyone involved—students, parents, siblings, family members, school staff and the community—strictly adhere to timeframes allotted to each graduate.

 

If the schedule limits your visit to 10 or 15 minutes at a location, that schedule is ironclad. For the health and safety of all, it is imperative to respect that structure. This ensure crowds do not form and it will ensure each student receives an equal opportunity for recognition.

 

If a student or family member is showing signs of illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath) on their scheduled day, please contact Elyria High School as soon as possible to reschedule the appointment. The district will follow all social distancing requirements as set by the State of Ohio.

 

Attached, you’ll find a schedule that articulates upcoming key events. Please continue checking social media for updates on rain delays or other venue changes.

 

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and email us at ask@elyriaschools.org.