Emphasizing his responsibility “to be diligent, not negligent,” Superintendent Stan Jefferson today announced plans for a modified in-person graduation for the Mansfield Senior High School Class of 2020.
“No one understands better than I the importance of Tyger commencement traditions,” said Jefferson, whose career has included three decades as a Senior High teacher, coach, principal and now superintendent.
“But while I am ultimately responsible for the education of our students, I also am responsible for assuring the safety of our students, families and the entire community at school events. We cannot have a traditional graduation without compromising the social distancing directives put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID -19, the coronavirus.”
The Ohio Department of Education has advised high schools to avoid traditional commencement ceremonies, saying in a statement, “In-person events add to the complexity of asking students to comply with social distancing, as these events often are highly emotional, invoking natural physical responses such as high-fives and hugs.”
Senior High’s modified in-person graduation, which has the blessing of Richland Public Health, will involve members of the Class of 2020 videotaped individually as they cross the auditorium stage to receive their diplomas. The videotaping will be done over seven days from May 7 to 15 and will result in a completed video for each graduate.
Here’s how it will be done:
Each graduate will be assigned a time to arrive at Senior High with a maximum of four guests -- family members or friends, including babies. Everyone will have their temperature taken by a school nurse.
The graduate will don cap and gown, enter the auditorium on one side, then walk across the stage to pick up their diploma in the presence of Principal Marinise Harris, Superintendent Jefferson and board of education President Renda Cline.
At no time will there be more than 10 people in the auditorium, in accordance with health department guidelines.
The graduate will exit through the auditorium doors on the opposite side to have a formal graduation photograph taken, followed by the four guests. As soon as they clear the room, another graduate and maximum of four guests will repeat the process.
Remarks by Ms. Harris, Jefferson and Ms. Cline will be recorded separately, as will addresses by valedictorian Addyson Van Houton, salutatorian Brianna English and class president Cam Todd.
professional videographer then will merge the entire program, including
traditional commencement music, into a video that will be provided to each
graduate, along with their individual graduation photo and a copy of the
program that will be created.
said the modified in-person graduation will allow four immediate family members
and/or friends to see their graduate walk across the stage in person. The
completed video, she said, will give each member of the Class of 2020 an
opportunity to see their classmates receive their diplomas.
graduation video will be posted on tygerpride.com, Facebook and other social
media platforms on May 23, the scheduled commencement date. In addition,
special online recognition of the Class of 2020 also is planned prior to May
“We are sensitive to the concerns of the graduates and their parents,” Ms. Cline said. “A great deal of planning has gone into making the best decisions possible as we move forward. Graduation is an event – an important one – but it is not a final destination for our graduates who will move on to college, the military and the workforce.
“We hope everyone will recognize that we are doing our very best as we address the COVID-19 concerns that have created an unprecedented time in our history.”
Jefferson acknowledged the remarks of Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday in which the governor emphasized that “social distancing must be first and foremost” in any consideration of graduation.
guidelines that will be posted by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio
Department of Education, DeWine said a preferred option would be a virtual
graduation through an internet platform. Second and third, he said would be a
drive-in type graduation in which students would remain in their cars to pick
up diplomas or an event where diplomas are awarded in front of 10 or fewer
“I believe we will combine the best of the available options because immediate family or friends – a limit of four – will be present to watch their graduate receive his or her diploma,” Jefferson said. “Then each member of the Class of 2020 will receive a video of the entire program we are creating.”
Jefferson said it would be virtually impossible to enforce social distancing requirements in the confined area of the auditorium.
have suggested graduation at Arlin Field, Jefferson said the same problems
“How could we enforce proper distancing as graduates and the public entered the stadium and took their seats?” he asked. “And we all know what would happen when it’s over – graduates would be celebrating arm-in-arm with hugs.”
all that, Jefferson said, is the uncertainty of the weather.
“There is a lot of confusion about the term ‘virtual.’ We are not having a virtual graduation; we are having a modified in-person graduation that offers the best option for graduates and families under the COVID-19 circumstances,” Jefferson said.
“My heart is with all Tygers in the Class of 2020 but my responsibility is to be diligent, not negligent.”
Detailed information about preparations for the modified in-person graduation and a letter about the cancellation of prom will be posted on the Coronavirus Closure box on the tygerpride.com home page.