- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico’s largest public school system is planning virtual high school graduation ceremonies in June because it’s unlikely that the coronavirus pandemic will subside soon.

In southern New Mexico, Las Cruces schools are gearing up for high school senior drive-thru celebratory parades Thursday and Friday.

Graduation season comes as the state remains under a public health order that encourages people to stay at home and prohibits any gatherings of more than a few people. Just recently, the governor relaxed restrictions on businesses and houses of worship in some areas but called for everyone to wear face coverings when they go out in public.

Schools have been shut down since March because of the pandemic.

Albuquerque school district officials said Tuesday that they had held out hope that conditions would improve to make it safe for some form of traditional graduation gathering.

However, according to a school district statement, “the world is not there yet.”

The virtual graduations will be viewable on the internet, with student speeches and with the names of every graduate announced and possibly accompanied by a photo and personalized messaged.

The number of coronavirus cases in New Mexico tops 6,100, with McKinley and San Juan counties accounting for more than half of the infections despite their lower populations.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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