School districts prepare backup plans for prom and graduation

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Districts across Northeast Ohio are preparing for the possibility students may not return to the classroom this school year because of the coronavirus.

“We are challenged to rely almost exclusively on technology to keep our students moving forward for at least the next few weeks and likely much longer,” said Mentor Schools Superintendent Bill Porter.

An Akron Public School spokesperson says they do not have insight as to what’s coming next from Columbus but will adjust accordingly as announcements are made by Governor Mike DeWine.

“My sense, based on comments the governor has made and all of his press updates, this will get extended,” said Brecksville-Broadview Heights superintendent Joelle Magyar. “How that will look towards the end of the school year I don’t know.”

Eric Gordon, the CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan City School District, says students will have a prom and graduation ceremony. Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools superintendent Steve Thompson agreed, saying the important senior occasion should be marked. 

“Those are just milestones in everyone’s maturation from being a teenager into adulthood that you remember,” said Thompson.

Solon City School officials are announcing their next phase of online learning. In a statement on the school district’s website officials say, “It has become clear in recent days Ohio school closures will likely continue past the original April 6 end date.”

“Our students are getting instruction now. They’re continuing to get instruction. They’re going to be getting grades. They’re going to graduate, provided they do everything to graduate,” said Fred Bolden, Superintendent Pro Tempore of Solon City Schools.

A spokesperson for North Ridgeville City Schools says preparations are underway for closures that may extend past April 3, which include academic planning for distance learning and scheduling of school and district events.

The Mentor superintendent expressed sympathy for students looking forward to graduation and prom. A district official says backup plans for both ceremonies are in progress.

“No one could have ever imagined your senior year would look like this,” said Porter, in a video statement to students. “I cannot express how sorry I am for the heartbreak and disappointment you have already experienced.”

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