Wake County says in-person graduations back on - in modified form - for Class of 2020

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The Wake County Public School System confirmed each of its high schools will hold modified in-person high school graduations this year.

"We've asked every high school to facilitate an in-person event that will allow a receiving of a diploma while following the current health guidelines," WCPSS Superintendent Cathy Moore said in a virtual meeting with the media on Friday. "It won't look like a traditional in-person graduation ceremony, but it will be an opportunity to maintain some traditions and have a diploma experience,"

The class of 2020 was originally set to celebrate at Raleigh Convention Center and Reynolds Coliseum. Last week, WCPSS announced it would not hold traditional graduation services for seniors this year.

But after further discussions with students, parents and school leaders, WCPSS decided to re-evaluate and come up with a way to have in-person graduations.

How exactly those graduations will look, is yet to be determined.

"Our principals are really figuring that out with their students and their staffs at their schools." said Moore when asked if the in-person graduations would be drive-thru or otherwise.

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"The plan allows each high school to host celebrations on their respective campuses. The dates and times will be determined by the school principal and shared with graduating seniors. All celebrations will be designed to comply with current safety guidelines," School Board Chairman Keith Sutton said.

A letter sent to families on Friday reads "Each high school will host on-campus celebrations, the dates and times of which will be determined by the school principal. While designed with current safety guidelines in mind, these events will allow students to keep some graduation traditions and celebrate together with some of their classmates, teachers and principal."

Online graduations will take place between June 8-13.

"The virtual ceremonies will include the playing of pomp and circumstance, speeches from students and the principal, the calling of every senior's name, turning of tassles and photos of the class of 2020 during the recession," Sutton said.

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Each high school will reach out to families in the coming days with more detailed plans for their graduation. More information on the district's plan is available on the WCPSS website.

Johnston County Public Schools said the district would hold "modified" in-person graduations between July 29 and August 1.

A spokesperson for the county said the ceremonies would be held on school campuses, and guests may be limited. Schools may also hold multiple ceremonies for their seniors. Johnston County said each school would decide the best plans for its students.

If in-person graduations are impossible due to social distancing guidelines, the county will hold drive-thru graduations on the same dates.

North Carolina entered Phase 1 of its reopening plan last Friday. The earliest the state could enter Phase 2 would by May 22.
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