April 25, 2020
Scripps National spelling competition, which is only open to students in elementary and middle school, will not hold this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The event which was previously postponed last month has now formally reached a decision by it officials to be canceled.
The eight co-champions celebrate after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday May 30, 2019 in Oxon Hill, Md | Photo: Getty Images
The officials addressing how choosing a new date has become a problematic task took to the Scripps National Spelling Bee's official twitter page to announce the event cancellation.
Scripps had also considered a virtual spelling bee but concluded that going virtual would be too difficult logistically and the feeling of competing in-person would be lost.
However, according to People, the National Spelling Bee will return in 2021 and is slated to hold June 1, 2, and 3 in National Harbor, Maryland. In the press statement released on Twitter, the executive director, Paige Kimble, said,
"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."
She further added that the decision to cancel was a difficult one as many spellers, especially eight graders won't get their final shot at winning.
Confetti falls over Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, New York after the finals of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 30, 2013 at Gaylord National Resort, Maryland | Photo: Getty Images
Although the national finalists might not get their chance to win $50,000 cash prize and trophy this year, a CNN article revealed that the bee organizers would send out backpacks packed with some keepsakes to the national finalists.
Following the cancellation of the Scripps 2020 spelling bee, the Dasaris, both ex-spellers, and founders of SpellPundit announced via USA Today that they would be hosting a Virtual Spelling bee.
The SpellPundit Online National Spelling Bee will be held on May 28, the same week as the formally scheduled Scripps bee.
USA Today reported that the online bee would also adopt a format similar to that of Scripps. The bee will start with a written spelling and vocabulary test followed by oral spelling. The champion will, however, receive only $2,500 as opposed to Scripps' grand prize of $50,000.
Shourav Dasari, a high school junior, and Shobha Dasari, who's finishing her freshman year at Stanford, also stated that they would be creating their competition's word list themselves.
To ensure fair-play, SpellPundit is counting on the honor system, and the use of webcams to make sure participants don't cheat and they will be disqualified if they appear to seek some unfair advantage.
According to USA Today, Scripps had also considered a virtual spelling bee but concluded that going virtual would be too difficult logistically and the feeling of competing in-person would be lost.
Some parents of eighth-graders also implored Scripps to find a way for their kids to compete despite the pandemic so that they don't lose their years of training for the spelling bee.
USA Today mentioned that a change.org petition was equally launched by Coach Sylvie Lamontagne to call for Scripps to make ninth-graders eligible for 2021's bee. Others have, however, also suggested a smaller, invitation-only event for this year's top participants.