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Spokane Public Schools will not have in-person graduation in June, Gov. Inslee says

The district's request for a ceremony in early June was denied because "the governor doesn't expect larger gatherings like that will be feasible" at that time.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Public Schools leaders say Gov. Jay Inslee's office denied the district's request for an in-person graduation at Joe Albi Stadium.

Ally Barrera, a spokesperson for SPS, said the request for a ceremony during the weekend of June 6-7 was denied because "the governor doesn't expect larger gatherings like that will be feasible that soon after the stay-at-home order is lifted.”  

Several weeks ago, Inslee extended the statewide stay-home order through May 31. 

Barrera previously said the district was "looking at what it would take to have a live graduation." 

"We know it's what students and their families would want, and it's our ultimate goal to make it a reality," she wrote to KREM.

The district was also looking into plans for a virtual graduation at that time, Barrera said. She added that the district wanted to begin the planning process sooner rather than later. 

This comes after a senior at Shadle Park High School created a change.org petition for the district to postpone graduations rather than moving toward virtual ceremonies. 

"With the transition to online school, seniors have already had a hard time trying to grasp the thought that their days of high school are over," senior Carley Bachmeier wrote.  

"Seniors should get a say in how we want OUR high school career to end. Not having adults decide for us," she added.

RELATED: Washington State University grad surprised with backyard commencement

Marla Nunberg with the Central Valley School District told KREM on Wednesday that district leaders have not yet received any feedback from the governor's office on a graduation plan they submitted. 

CVSD surveyed its parents prior to submitting the plan, and it was clear that they were in favor of delaying graduation if that decisions allowed for an in-person ceremony, Nunberg said. 

The plan from CVSD identified three dates in July and August for an in-person graduation ceremony. The district is already working on alternate plans, including a virtual graduation, if the in-person plan is not approved. 

A spokesperson for the Mead School District said on Wednesday that leaders may have an update on plans for commencement ceremonies by end of next week. 

Mead SD also sent out a parent survey with three potential options, including a virtual ceremony and following up with an in-person ceremony later, just a virtual ceremony, or waiting for an in person ceremony when the state allows it. The original date for its two high school graduation ceremonies was June 5.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee closed all schools in Washington state on March 13 in order to curb the spread of coronavirus. He announced on April 6 that in-person classes would be canceled for the rest of the school year.  

RELATED: Washington schools shift to remote learning for the rest of the school year in coronavirus response

SPS Superintendent Dr. Shelley Redinger said at the end of April that the district wants to "remain hopeful that schools could open up before the end of the year."

"This is a meaningful time for all of our students and their families, and we know being able to see their classmates and teachers in person is critical to their social-emotional well-being," Redinger wrote in a statement. "However, the safety of our students and staff is most important, and we will continue to follow the guidelines laid out by Governor Inslee, OSPI and the Spokane Regional Health District."

RELATED: Layoffs unlikely if Spokane Public Schools declares financial emergency

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