The Janesville School District announced Friday it was canceling its July 25 in-person high school graduation ceremony, saying in a letter to families that “hosting a large gathering of people would be irresponsible” in the pandemic.

In a letter released late Friday afternoon, district officials said they thought when they first began planning they could host a live graduation event at Monterey Stadium this summer.

However, that event depended on the community reaching phase three in the Rock County Public Health Department’s reopening guidelines, officials said. The county currently is at phase two.

“We do not know when the county will go into Phase III or if we might return to Phase I should the incidence of COVID-19 increase in the community again,” the letter states. “We cannot wait to make a ‘go or no-go’ decision, as hosting a graduation ceremony requires advance work and effort by many.”

The letter continues: “We have a commitment and expectation to maintain and promote the health and safety of our greater school community, and with the continued unknowns regarding COVID-19 in the nation, hosting a large gathering of people would be irresponsible.

“Additionally, the logistics of making substantial accommodations and modifications to a graduation program being held at Monterey Stadium to satisfy appropriate physical distancing and health and safety guidelines are prohibitive. We know we cannot provide you with the graduation event you imagined, and anything less is disappointing.”

Earlier this month, the district posted video graduation ceremonies produced by Janesville-based Drywater Productions. The ceremonies still can be watched on the district’s YouTube channel.

Friday’s letter, which is signed by Superintendent Steve Pophal and the principals at Craig, Parker and the district’s four charter schools, calls the Class of 2020 “unique.”

“We are proud of how you handled yourselves throughout this past school year, and especially the last three months,” it states. “Your ability to navigate through adversity will serve you well in life.”