NorthWood Graduation photo

In this 2015 file photo, seniors at NorthWood High School wait to receive their diplomas.

NAPPANEE — Graduation commencement at NorthWood High School has been postponed after several seniors have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, the district announced Thursday.

Graduation was originally scheduled for July 17, but because of the recent occurrence, it has been rescheduled to Aug.1, Wa-Nee Superintendent Scot Croner said in a letter to the community.

“Per CDC guidelines, any individual who has had close contact for 15 minutes or more with a person with COVID-19 is considered a ‘Close Contact’ and required to quarantine for 14 days after the exposure,” Croner wrote. “Through direct discussion with the Elkhart County Health Department, we have determined that due to the large number of seniors that have been ‘Close Contacts’ and to protect the students, staff and guests that are planning to attend graduation, we cannot host tomorrow’s ceremony as planned.”

The Aug. 1 ceremony will follow the same time schedule as originally outlined:

Group 1 – Graduation ceremony will start at 4:30 p.m. with the doors opening at 4 p.m. Graduates will report to the band room at 3:45 p.m. Graduates and guests will be asked to leave the pit immediately after the ceremony so that it can be sanitized prior to the arrival of the next group.

Group 2 – Graduation ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. with the doors opening at 6 p.m. Graduates will report to the band room at 5:45 p.m. Graduates and guests will be asked to leave the pit immediately after the ceremony.

Group 3 – Graduation ceremony will start at 8:30 p.m. with doors opening at 8 p.m. Graduates will report to the band room at 7:45 p.m. Graduates and guests will be asked to leave the pit immediately after the ceremony.

“The NWHS administration, the Elkhart County Health Department, and I are committed to celebrating our graduating Class of 2020,” Croner wrote. “However, in order to accomplish this, we need the assistance of our graduates and their families.”

Going forward, Croner advises families to review the Indiana State Department of Health’s “Return to School Protocol,” which gives different scenarios depending on when an individual displays symptoms and when that person can safely return to school or exit quarantine.

“Our seniors’ graduation ceremony, our goal to safely return to school this August, and our efforts to reduce community spread requires our combined efforts to monitor, communicate and self-isolate when a suspected case of COVID-19 has occurred,” Croner wrote.

“In closing, although we are incredibly disappointed that we must take these steps, we will continue to follow CDC, ISDH and our County Health Department’s guidance to ensure the safety of our students, staff and guests. Our seniors deserve an appropriate ceremony to honor their achievements. Please help us by following these guidelines and remaining vigilant over these next 16 days so that we can celebrate our graduates.”

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