For the first time since World War II, there won’t be a Scripps National Spelling Bee champ this year

Scripps announces cancellation of the 2020 national finals.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee, America’s longest-running educational program, has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bee said in a press release on Tuesday that it is canceling the 2020 national finals due to Covid-19, the first time the nation will not see the Spelling Bee since World War II.

Last month, it had announced the suspension of the national finals, hoping to reschedule them. The organization said on Tuesday that it “has determined there is no clear path to safely” schedule the finals this year.

“Our thoughts immediately go to our spellers and their families,” Paige Kimble, executive director of the Bee, said in the release. “The students have dedicated time and effort to their passion for learning. They should be proud of all they have accomplished by winning spelling bees at the classroom, school and regional level. Nevertheless, our first priority has to be the health and well-being of our spellers and their families and the hundreds of staff and spectators that come together for Bee Week.”

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Prior to the onset of coronavirus, more than 150 regional champions had been crowned. The release said the Bee will recognize the spellers “in the coming months.”

Many of them include eighth graders, for whom this would have been the final chance to compete in the Bee. Students who advance beyond the eighth grade are not eligible to compete in the spelling bee.

“Our hearts go out to the spellers who won’t get their final shot at winning because of the pandemic and the difficult decisions it is prompting us to make,” said Kimble. “They are now part of a widely expanding group of children and adults who are missing out on opportunities due to the coronavirus.”

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According to the Bee, this is the first time since the World War II years (1943-1945) that it has canceled the national finals.

Even though the 2020 finals stand canceled, the organization has already started making plans for next year.

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held from June 1 to 3 next year, in National Harbor, Maryland.

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