Education

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) will hold virtual graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 to celebrate seniors without bringing people together amid the pandemic.

JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio said in a call with reporters Wednesday that each high school will livestream its virtual ceremony one at a time on the district’s YouTube page, beginning the last week of May.

“We will try to make it as traditional as possible, virtually,” Pollio said. He said each senior’s name will be read aloud, and that the ceremonies will include speeches from the principal and class president or valedictorian, as well as music, photos and videos.

Each of the 25 ceremonies will have their own time slot to be livestreamed on the JCPS YouTube page. The ceremonies will also be available on the page to watch later. The district is still working out the livestreaming schedule.

The district opted not to collect videos of seniors individually walking across the stage in their caps and gowns to include in the virtual ceremony. That was one suggestion offered by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

“We were really concerned about the social distancing, how that would work in large numbers at 25 different ceremonies,” Pollio said. There are about 6,000 graduating seniors, according to JCPS.

Other options from KDE included a drive-in ceremony, or holding many mini in-person ceremonies in keeping with CDC limits on gatherings of no more than 10 people.

Pollio is still promising in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 when it is safe to have them, even if that’s later this summer, or next year. Some experts say large gatherings of hundreds or thousands of people may not be safe until 2021.

“My commitment is to do that,” he said, even if it’s not until spring or summer of 2021.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.