DETROIT – The clock is ticking for middle schools, high schools and colleges to figure out virtual graduation ceremonies amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Many school districts are struggling with how to honor their students who have worked so hard to graduate while also balancing a need to make any kind of virtual observance special and meaningful -- and technologically reliable.
There’s a national program that could be a game changer. It’s First come, first served for the first 1,000 institutions who get in.
For the next few weeks Utica Community Schools is getting its 2,200 graduating seniors ready for their big walk across the stage -- teachers and administrators personally delivering caps and gowns. But there is uncertainty on what graduation day the first week in June might actually look like -- if it does have to be virtual.
School administrators are holding out hope that they could still have an in-person graduation. They have also been in contact with organizations seeking technical support and creative input to make a virtual graduation special.
On Tuesday, Microsoft stepped in with a program for 1,000 schools. Students will be offered workshops to build digital yearbooks, they’ll have virtual classes on customizing their caps and gowns, and Microsoft will be lending its platforms and expertise to literally walk schools through the process to virtually walk across the stage.
The program is free. The first 1,000 schools to sign up will need a 4-6 week window to let Microsoft make the graduation happen.