Olentangy Schools officials continue to hold out hope that the district’s seniors and their families will be able to celebrate commencement Sunday, May 17, at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

But just in case restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic should prevent May commencement ceremonies, the district has secured a Sunday, July 19, date at the Schott, 555 Borror Drive in Columbus, as a backup for commencement for all four high schools.

"We recognize having a large group gather in mid-May may not be permissible as we get closer to that time," district spokesperson Krista Davis told ThisWeek.

July commencement ceremonies would be held on the same schedule as has been set for May 17, Davis said. Olentangy Liberty's would be at 9 a.m., followed by Orange's at noon, Berlin's at 3 p.m. and Olentangy's at 6 p.m.

“We are working hard to do everything possible to ensure the great class of 2020 is recognized in the manner in which they deserve," Superintendent Mark Raiff said.

Davis said the district has received some feedback from families.

"The parent response has been overwhelmingly positive. They seem to be relieved that we have an alternative date," Davis said. "We realize this may not work for everyone but hope that as many as possible are able to participate."

“The ability to have a graduation day is so important to everyone in our community, especially our seniors and their families,” Olentangy Orange High School principal Trond Smith said. “It is the celebration of a journey completed. Being able to have that closure and the ability to be together as a class one last time is a lasting memory.”

Asked if there is a contingency plan for the July 19 date, Davis said that would be addressed if needed but that "for now, July is our contingency."

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