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Editorial: Don’t forget about class of 2020

Rowan-Salisbury Schools last week announced it will hold more traditional in-person graduation ceremonies for seniors May 29, with most other details still undecided, but it shouldn’t forget about a promise it made last year.

With much still uncertain about the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, the school system planned drive-thru graduations and said there would be traditional in-person graduations at some point in the future.

Initially Oct. 10 was the date Rowan-Salisbury Schools officials picked for the more traditional graduations, but it came and went without the ceremonies because of the state of the virus at the time.

Considering the circumstances, students and parents might have understood if the school system only rolled out drive-thru plans, but the additional promise means some families and students are hoping the school system will eventually deliver.

Assuming there’s not another spike in cases and deaths because of new variants, the school system has an opportunity to provide the class of 2020 with a chance to bring more of their family members to a traditional ceremony and a final piece of closure for a school year that ended abruptly. It should take that chance.

Some students have happily moved on from high school life and others have moved away. So, participation is unlikely to be as high as a traditionally scheduled ceremony, which might allow for more guests than a ticket limit would have otherwise allowed, but the system should offer the opportunity for any who remain interested.

Schools can poll families and students for whom they still have contact information to gauge interest. If there’s not enough interest to hold graduations at each school, a combined ceremony may be appropriate.

There’s also no requirement that graduations for 2020 seniors be held in proximity to the end of this school year.

For 2020 graduates, the ceremony could be held in mid-June and still be meaningful for parents, students and family members who have been left waiting.

The pandemic took away so much from the class of 2020. In fulfilling their promise, school officials should think about how meaningful it will be for students to share their stories publicly and with one another about struggles since classes abruptly ended.

It’s good that Rowan-Salisbury Schools is committing to an in-person graduation for the class of 2021, but it shouldn’t forget about the class of 2020.

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