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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama announced Tuesday that they will participate in a set of virtual graduation ceremonies amid the coronavirus crisis.

The state of play: The former president will deliver a nationwide commencement address to high school seniors on May 16 as part of The LeBron James Family Foundation's "Graduate Together," which will be aired by all major networks in primetime. Both Obamas will speak during YouTube's "Dear Class of 2020" event on June 6.

  • The YouTube event will feature other headliners like Korean boy band BTS, Lady Gaga, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  • President Obama will also speak during an event for graduates of HBCUs on May 16.

What he's saying: "I’ve always loved joining commencements — the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones," President Obama said on Twitter.

Go deeper

Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Poll: America's confidence in public school system jumps amid pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's confidence in the public school system rose by 12 points this year to 41% — its highest point since 2004, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Why it matters: "Double-digit increases in confidence for any institution are exceedingly rare," Gallup notes. The jump comes as teachers, administrators and parents are still figuring out how to safely get kids back to school in the midst of a global pandemic, as the U.S. reports the most coronavirus infections and fatalities in the world.

New Jersey governor allows schools to reopen for in-person learning

Gov. Phil Murphy in December 2019. Phoot: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Wednesday he will sign an executive order allowing private and public K-12 schools and universities to reopen for in-person learning in September.

The big picture: New York and New Jersey have now authorized school districts to begin reopening. Both states and Connecticut ordered travelers from 31 states to quarantine before crossing their state borders after they were able to manage the pandemic.

The pandemic is hitting city budgets harder than the Great Recession

Expand chart
Data: National League of Cities; Chart: Axios Visuals

With tax revenue in free-fall and expenditures dramatically rising, the coronavirus pandemic is on pace to hit cities' finances even harder than the Great Recession.

Why it matters: Almost all cities are required to balance their budgets, and at this rate they'll have no choice but to cut more services, layoff or furlough more workers and freeze capital projects.