2021 | Schools

County to consider guidance for in-person school graduations

Restrictions could include group, spacing limits

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After an unconventional school year for students, Montgomery County officials on Tuesday will consider guidance and restrictions on graduations to allow ceremonies to take place in person.

MCPS was originally planning for traditional in-personal graduation ceremonies. But central office staff members told the school board during a meeting last month that they had shifted to plan for schools to hold graduation ceremonies at their outdoor stadiums.

Schools will also devise an inclement weather plan, MCPS staff members said.

At the time, MCPS said the outdoor ceremonies would depend upon COVID-19 metrics and local guidance about gathering sizes.

A decision about whether virtual ceremonies should be held instead was expected this month.

The County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, will consider on Tuesday whether to implement several infectious-disease controls, including:
● The total number of persons present at an outdoor graduation ceremony must be limited to 50% of the outdoor venue’s maximum occupancy.
● If an outdoor venue does not have a formal certificate of occupancy, 40 square feet per person must be used to calculate the occupancy limit.
● The total number of persons present at an indoor graduation ceremony would be limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy or 250 people, whichever is smaller.
● A school that plans an indoor graduation ceremony must obtain a Letter of Approval for its plan, showing how it would meet the general requirements of the regulation.
● A record of everyone attending the graduation must be kept for 30 days to enable contact tracing.
● The school must identify a point of contact for attendees to notify if they test positive for COVID-19 within two weeks after the event. The point of contact must notify the county’s Department of Health and Human Services within one business day of notice of a positive test.
● No more than 10 people can be on the stage at one time.
● The ceremony must last no more than two hours.
● Members of the audience from different households must remain at least six feet apart at all times.
● Signage explaining the infectious-disease-control requirements must be posted at the venue.
● No group or staged photography.
● No congregating or gathering in common areas both inside and outside the venue before or after the ceremony.
● A masked speaker must be at least 12 feet from the audience and an unmasked speaker must be at least 18 feet from the audience.
● Diplomas must be distributed without handshakes or physical contact.
● No food or beverage concessions at the ceremony.
A public hearing and vote on the restrictions are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The deadline to sign up to speak at the hearing is Monday at 5 p.m. LINK

Council President Tom Hucker and Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz proposed the amendments.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.