High school senior functions, including graduation, going virtual

College admissions shouldn’t be affected by COVID-19 pandemic

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – This spring, seniors throughout the First Coast will graduate high school and move onto the different paths leading to their futures. But that graduation, along with many other things endemic to the completion of high school, will not be proceeding as planned.

Seniors and all other students will likely complete the school year using online learning platforms in order to maintain social distancing and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Online learning can be managed and there is minimal, if any loss to the student.

High school seniors, however, will lose in other ways. Senior trips, events, proms and most importantly, commencement ceremonies are either canceled or currently in limbo.

According to Clay County District Schools, all end of year activities has been canceled. For seniors who have paid dues, and planned for senior trips and prom, the concern is not only that these seminal events of high school will be missed with no opportunity to ever make them up, but also, what will happen to the money they have spent?

At this time the district is working with vendors to receive event and trip refunds so that students won’t be left in the cold with no recourse for the money they have already spent.

No decision has been made as yet about whether or not graduation ceremonies will take place. For many, graduation is one of the huge moments in life. The school district is holding on, trying to find some way not to deny that special moment to those who have worked so hard to get there.

One of the other key issues created by the social distancing is how seniors heading to college will be affected academically and in their college application processes.

While most have already taken their SAT or ACT, some are retaking them, looking to raise their scores and some may not have taken them. Those students will have incomplete application packets for college. That is not always a deterrent.

“The great thing about being a ‘community’ [two-year] or state college, is that for the most part, students can apply without worrying about a particular test score,” said Susan Kessler, Director of public relations for St. John’s River State College, which has a campus in Orange Park. “We don't require test scores like universities do. For many, those test scores are to determine what level of math and English classes one is ready to take.”

Students will close this school year in a fashion unlike any before in their lives. If the virus threat has subsided, many should move onto college studies with little interruption.

Most high school seniors already have applied for college admission. According to the school’s website, the University of North Florida suggested prospective freshmen apply as early as June 1 after their junior year in high school. The application cutoffs at the University of Florida and Florida State is May 1.

All Florida universities will maintain the same admission requirements, including four years of English and math (Algebra I and higher), three years of natural and social science and two years of foreign language and academic electives.

Since students still will be earning grades with online courses, it won’t affect the college admission requirements.

Florida State announced it would have a more-forgiving application process for the 2021 schoolyear due to the different ways school districts responded to the coronavirus.

On its website, the university said, “If your school has decided to change their normal grading system this year to reflect Pass/Fail grades, we completely understand this decision. At FSU, we offered a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option to our own students enrolled in the Spring term. Pass/Fail grades will not negatively impact your admission status as long as you pass! For all other students enrolled in high school, Pass/Fail grades will not negatively impact your ability to be considered for admission in 2021 and beyond.”

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