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Friday, March 5, 2021

State gives go ahead to schools for graduation ceremonies with up to 250 people

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Christy Fleming
Christy Fleming
The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald snapped this picture at a drive-thru graduation on May 22. The photographer’s name was not provided.

In a little more than a week, several local high schools will celebrate their graduations.

But since Governor Carney eased restrictions on allowable crowd sizes today effective June 1, many schools are back to the drawing board, drumming up plans to take advantage of the opportunity that will offer greater flexibility for parents, students and faculty.

Carney today said that outdoor gatherings — including weddings and graduations — can now take place with up to 250 people. Social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines would still be in place.

Graduation organizers at District and Charter schools must first submit a plan to Secretary of Education Susan Bunting at susan.bunting@doe.k12.de.us at least seven (7) days prior to the anticipated event.

 

For a small private school like Sanford, today’s news could be a big change for the planned ceremonies this summer.

Their plans until today were to have a diploma ceremony on June 5th followed by a full commencement in August. At the June 5th event, students would have remained in cars with their parents until it was their turn to receive their diploma. When their name was called, students would have exited their cars and walked solo across the school’s quad to receive their diploma from Head of School Mark Anderson and Head of Upper School Abbi Smith.

Now the students and families can gather outdoors, and schools can plan full commencements on the same day. The school has not yet announced any revised plans.

Tatnall School says that in light of today’s announcement by Governor Carney, the school is currently evaluating the interests of the seniors and their families and those of the administration to ensure the best outcome for all involved. The School administration will share any new plans with the community.

 

The Delaware Department of Education (DoE) responded tonight to Governor Carney’s lifting of the crowd ban with their own guidance to schools. 

Highlights of their guidance include:

  • Seating: Districts/charters shall restrict seating (in fixed bleachers or other seating) to comply with the six feet social distancing requirements, except that members of the same household may sit together. Standing along a fence line or perimeter is prohibited.
  • There should be a six-foot radius around individual household units.
  • The plan must contain information regarding enforcement of social distancing.
  • Singing: While music and singing are permitted, bands and choral groups should not be utilized during the ceremony. Districts/charters may utilize single musicians/singers or duos if social distancing of six feet between the singers can be observed, and they are able to wear a face covering or face shield. If face coverings or face shields are not available or cannot be used, strategies such as not having the musician/singer directly facing the graduates or increasing the distance between the musician/singer and the graduates should be employed.
  • Programs: To the extent practicable, programs should be provided in a format other than paper – either projected on a screen and/or offered online for graduates and families to view from their personal handheld devices.
  • Concessions sales are strongly discouraged, and buffets are prohibited.

The full guidelines can be found here.

 

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