Cuyahoga Falls High School will have a virtual graduation ceremony that will be broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel later in May and each graduate will be allowed to have four guests watch them cross the auditorium stage in their cap and gown during their scheduled taping.

Cuyahoga Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols announced the plan for the virtual graduation ceremony  after the Ohio Department of Education told school districts that in-person graduation ceremonies and other large group events should not happen this year due to COVID-19. Nichols also said a survey was sent to all Falls High seniors, and about 25% of the seniors who responded said they would not participate in school events after the end of May.

The initial plan that was announced on April 24 did not include allowing family members to be present when graduates will be video recorded walking across the auditorium stage to collect their diploma cover.

This past week, after receiving a lot of feedback from the community, Nichols on Tuesday said each 2020 graduate may bring four guests to the video recording session in the high school auditorium.

"We realize this new plan is exciting for many of our families," said Nichols in all-call message to district home Tuesday evening.

He asked family members who are attending the video recording session to follow the procedures that district officials have set up.

"On this day, families will be escorted by staff during their child’s time period to stand in the back of the auditorium to watch their child walk across the stage, stop at the podium to say their name, pick up their diploma cover from a small table and finally walk across the remainder of the stage," said Nichols.

Seniors have until Friday May 1 to sign up for a time slot to go to the high school to turn in school materials, clean out lockers, pick up their cap and gown and have their photo and video taken. The days for students to pick up graduation items and turn in school materials are May 5 through 8.

When students go to the building on their scheduled day, they should go to the stadium parking lot where a staff member will let them in through the gym doors. Students will have to remain in their cars until they are given permission to enter.

Only five students will be permitted in the building at one time. Students must wear a mask or scarf and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people. Gloves will be provided

When they go to the building on their assigned day, students will rotate through stations of: school fees, instrument return (band room), locker clean-out, return of school items, and art pick-up before arriving at the cafeteria to pick up yard signs, caps and tassel, academic awards (tassels and medals), athletic awards, materials for individual graduates and an information letter from the administrative team.

Students will then pick up their gown, and have their photo taken in front of a flag and next to senior art work.

After the photo shoot, the students will enter the auditorium and a video recording will be made of each graduate as he or she walks across the stage, with their four guests watching.

Following the photo and video, students would then have a chance to go outside and sign the rock.

The ceremony will be broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel on May 19 at 7 p.m. A countdown to the program will begin at 6:30. The airing of the ceremony will be followed by a senior video.

Plans are also being made for a senior parade, with a time and location soon to be announced.

Families of 2020 graduates should visit the district’s website at http://www.cfalls.org for more information on the virtual ceremony. The district has also sent emails to senior students and their families.

Schnee Learning Center plans virtual graduation ceremony

Schnee Learning Center is also planning to have a virtual commencement ceremony.

Tony Pallija, the school’s executive director, sent a letter to families announcing the plans to tape a graduation video in the school’s Issaquah Street building. In the letter, Pallija said families have until May 8 to pay their graduation fee. A higher fee will be charged if the student is participating in the video commencement program. Pallija noted students will not be allowed to bring guests into the building for the ceremony, but said photos would be taken that graduates can share with their families.

Pallija said in the letter that dates and times are still being worked out for the taping and release of the virtual commencement ceremony.

Families should email cf_kiehlc@cfalls.org or call 330-922-1966 if they have any questions.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.