THE HUB - Feature Article

  • New Health Guidance Leads School System to Alter Diploma Delivery for Graduating Seniors

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 5/28/2020

    Based on new guidance from the county Health Officer, Superintendent George Arlotto today announced a change in Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ plans to celebrate graduating seniors that will allow some family members to be with their graduates when they receive their diplomas.

    In addition to Digital Commencement Celebrations that will begin on Friday, high schools and developmental centers will now offer graduates an individual in-person opportunity to receive their diploma at their school in their cap and gown and with a small group of immediate family members watching as they do so. Schools will also be arranging for photographers to document the occasion.

    AACPS had tentatively planned to hold a Cap and Gown Gala event for each school’s graduating class in late July, but county Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman has advised Dr. Arlotto that such large-scale gatherings will still likely not be possible at that time. That information led to the cancellation of the late July events, which the Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills had offered to host, and started discussions about the new arrangement.

    “I have said since the day schools were closed in March that we would do everything we could to celebrate our seniors to the greatest extent possible,” Dr. Arlotto said. “This is an evolving situation, with the guidelines and restrictions continuing to change, and we must be able to alter our plans accordingly. I am grateful to Dr. Kalyanaraman and his entire team for their continued conversations as we traverse this difficult time for everyone.”

    Said Dr. Kalyanaraman: “I know how important honoring the graduates of our schools is to Dr. Arlotto and everyone in the school system. It is conceivable that the conditions in late July may allow for the gatherings that had been planned, but it is unlikely. The path Dr. Arlotto has now laid out is a far better option.”

    Schools will individually schedule times for their ceremonies, which will be held over several days following their Digital Commencement Celebrations. Information will be conveyed to families by individual schools. Graduates will be allowed to be accompanied by up to four immediate family members and must travel to the school in no more than two vehicles at their assigned time. Graduates will not be allowed to be accompanied by classmates, friends, or other relatives.

    Graduates and family members must remain in their vehicle until the scheduled time when the graduate will approach a stage set up outside the school, have their name called, and be given a diploma. Family members may stand outside their vehicles to take photographs but may not be on stage with their graduate.

    School staff will adhere to physical distancing requirements as they facilitate the events. All school staff and anyone getting out of a vehicle must wear a mask. Graduates may take their mask off only for the photograph and must then put it back on.

    Graduates and their family members must immediately return to their vehicle and exit the school grounds after the graduate receives a diploma.

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