Scripps National Spelling Bee cancels 2020 national finals for first time since 1945

Posted at 9:22 AM, Apr 21, 2020

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is canceling its 2020 national finals due to the ongoing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus and uncertainty around when public gatherings will be possible or advisable.

This decision follows the Bee’s announcement on March 20 that it was suspending the national finals and hoped to reschedule. The Bee has determined there is no clear path to safely set a new date in 2020.

More than 150 local sponsors successfully completed their regional programs by declaring champions before the coronavirus-related restrictions went into effect. The Bee will recognize those spellers in the coming months.

Among those spellers are students in eighth grade. Students who have advanced beyond the eighth grade are not eligible to participate in the spelling bee program.

Below is a statement from Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

"Our thoughts immediately go to our spellers and their families. The students have dedicated time and effort to their passion for learning," said Paige Kimble, the executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. "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."

2020 year marks the only time since World War II (1943-1945) that the Bee has canceled the national finals since the program’s inception in 1925. While plans for the 2020 championship have ended, the Bee is engaging with students and parents by offering educational resources and social media-based learning opportunities. School enrollment season for 2021 opens May 1, 2020.

Beginning in August, teachers at enrolled schools will have access to spelling and vocabulary materials for the 2020-2021 school year, including suggestions and guidelines for conducting the spelling bee program in a remote environment. The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee is scheduled for June 1-3, 2021, in National Harbor, Maryland.