With Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order extended through May 4, and school moved fully to distance learning for the rest of the year, many students and their families are wondering — what’s graduation going to look like?
The short answer: probably different.
Both the Enumclaw and White River school districts have said they’re committed to continuing the tradition of honoring their seniors, but it’s increasingly likely traditions will have to be broken in order to stay safe in the world of COVID-19.
“Everything that’s on the calendar through June 19 is canceled, and the governor’s proclamation was very detailed and very specific about that,” said WRSD Assistant Superintendent Mike Hagadone, meaning White River High School’s June 9 graduation day is being pushed back further into the month.
“As far as graduation, there’s still a lot of unknowns of what’s going to be allowed and what specific things we can do,” added Cody Mothershead, principal at WRHS. “In the meantime, we’re making plans for different scenarios… I don’t have a lot of concrete details right now.”
Both Hagadone and Mothershead said they don’t want to raise hopes for any specific plan at this moment, but Hagadone did say it was “not likely” a face-to-face graduation ceremony will be held.
Over at the Enumclaw High School, principal Phil Engebretsen sent a video message to seniors and their families about what the end of the year may look like.
“We have so many traditions, clubs, activities, and teams that we were still holding out hope that we would be back at school to finish the year together,” he said on Facebook. “Although many of our dreams were shattered, I want to make a promise to each of you — we are going to do our very best to create unique, and sometimes virtual, experiences to celebrate all that is great in the class of 2020.
“We’ll be able to arrive at a firm plan on graduation, based on guidance from state officials, hopefully in the coming weeks,” Engebresten continued.
Both Hagadone and Engebretsen said their districts are working on making sure 2019-2020 yearbooks will be completed by the end of the school year, but their respective printing plants are closed at the moment.
THE SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE TEST
Of course, graduation isn’t the only annual tradition for many seniors — though the SATs are certainly less fun.
According to College Board, the not-for-profit that organizes SAT and AP tests, the May 2 SAT has been cancelled, but future dates are under consideration.
“Currently, the next SAT is scheduled for the first weekend of June,” College Board’s website reads. “We’re working with test centers and we’ll decide whether we can safely hold that administration as soon as it’s feasible, given the evolving public health situation.”
However, if the COVID-19 crisis hasn’t allowed school to re-open by the September, “we’re pursuing innovative ways to ensure all students can still take the SAT this fall. We’ll provide updates about those plans if they become necessary.”
There will also be no practice SAT (or PSAT) for grades 8, 9, and 10 this spring.
ADVANCE PLACEMENT TESTS
Although there’s no mention of moving the SAT online, AP tests have been greatly altered to be distance-learning accessible on computers, tablets, and even phones; students can even write out their answers and submit them via photo. Exams are still scheduled for May 11 through May 22 at this time, and make up tests scheduled for June 1 through 5.
College Board will be providing students, families, and educators how to access the testing system in Late April, complete with video demonstrations; those who know the’ll have limited access to internet on test day can head to https://collegeboard.tfaforms.net/74 for addition help and instructions.
According to College Board, most AP tests will only cover topics and skills that teachers should have covered by March.
Additionally, tests has been shortened from multiple hours to just 45 minutes, with a 5 minute buffer for loading up.
Most exams will also have one or two free-response questions, which will be timed separately from the rest of the test.