For 12 years, students wait for the day when they get to cross the stage in front of family and friends and turn their tassel to acknowledge all the hard work they put in to make it through the 12th grade and signify that they're ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.
Students in Albany will have to wait a bit longer for that walk.
Greater Albany Public Schools announced on Thursday that graduation ceremonies for all three high schools in the district have been postponed due to current social distancing mandates in place across the state.
Gov. Kate Brown ordered schools closed through the end of the academic year to help slow the spread of COVID-19, an illness responsible for sickening thousands across the state and killing nearly 50,000 people nationwide.
"This week, administrators from the three high schools and district leadership made the joint decision to postpone all graduation ceremonies," GAPS spokesperson Andrew Tomsky said. "Feedback from students indicated that they would still like to have in-person graduation ceremonies at a later date, so we plan to hold ceremonies sometime before the beginning of the 2020-21 school year."
Holding the ceremony over the summer or even closer to September would be dependent on whether large groups could congregate again. Brown released a phased plan this week that would allow the state to open region by region if cities and counties met certain requirements.
"Our schools are still working to honor seniors in many ways this spring, including virtual recognition on the previously scheduled graduation dates," Tomsky said.
Prom has been canceled at all three schools due to social distancing requirements. Schools remain closed to students.
In terms of graduation, the district said it is still working to honor students who have worked hard to reach the milestone. Both South Albany High School and West Albany High School are taking part in the Be the Light movement. Schools across the state are lighting up their sports fields for 20 minutes to honor seniors.
South Albany Principal Nate Munoz said he understood students' disappointment but that they would still be able to take part in the milestone.
"Good news, seniors," he said. "Graduation is officially postponed, not canceled. There is no date yet but the day you've all been waiting for will happen. Go RedHawks!"
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