Dr. Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, issued a statement about 2020 graduation on her Twitter account today. This was in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ previous announcement that schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
“We cannot let this graduation season pass without publicly acknowledging the accomplishments of our 13,000 seniors and the contributions of their families and teachers,” Jenkins tweeted. “Unfortunately, no single solution will satisfy everyone.”
She has been communicating with her Student Advisory Council and with all 20 high school principals, who have been receiving input from their student government representatives and parents — and has made the decision to celebrate seniors with two ceremonies.
“We will plan 20 virtual graduation ceremonies, one for each high school, the first week of June,” Jenkins said. “If public health restrictions are lifted, and we are allowed to do so, we plan to hold a traditional graduation ceremony in late July at each of our 20 high schools.
“This allows closure for many of our seniors who will pursue other activities this summer but keeps the door open for many who hope for an in-person ceremony,” she said.
Jenkins made it clear that current information makes the likelihood of an in-person ceremony unlikely, “but we will be prepared for the possibility,” she said.
The OCPS high school office has been working with every principal on details that will involve special moments for our seniors in the weeks ahead, she said.
In early May, high school principals will send out detailed plans for students to go to their school campus to turn in their digital device, retrieve personal items and pick up a graduation package. This will be done over several days in order to follow for social distancing.
“While this isn’t the end of the school year we were expecting, we are going to make the best of it,” Jenkins tweeted. “I believe our students are resilient and will grow to do great things in spite of, and, in some cases because of, this experience.”