CAIRO — Graduating seniors at Cairo High School will take part in a virtual graduation ceremony next month in lieu of an in-person gathering.

Governor Brian Kemp ordered Wednesday that schools statewide remain closed through the end of the academic year to protect students and teachers from the novel coronavirus, and Grady County Superintendent Kermit Gilliard said it’s time to try to make the best of the current situation.

“I had prayed we would not hear this news,” Gilliard said in a statement Thursday. “But, we did. Now it’s time to make ‘lemonade with our lemons’ we have been handed.”

The virtual ceremony will take place May 22. Students will receive their diplomas the week after graduation.

An in-person ceremony will take place at West Thomas Stadium once large gatherings are allowed again.

Other school events facing changes will be prom, which also will be rescheduled to take place once large gatherings are allowed. Seniors’ Night will be a virtual experience that will take place early next month.

With schools now closed through the end of the academic year, Gilliard said Grady County will continue offering students free breakfasts and lunches “as long as it is safe.”

Food drop sites are open for at least 45 minutes beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cairo High School, Eastside Elementary School, Northside Elementary School, Shiver School, Washington Middle School and Whigham School. Another 13 sites are located throughout the county. Students must be present in order to receive their meals.

No meals will be distributed next week to account for spring break, but students can return to their food drop sites April 14 to pick up more breakfasts and lunches and a new take-home work packet.

Parents are urged to call (229) 377-3701 if their child needs food but cannot travel to one of the sites. Adults may purchase a breakfast and lunch for $5 cash.

More than 20,000 meals were distributed to students this past week.

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