Superintendent: Still No Decision On Graduation-Brevard NC
Last updated 5/20/2020 at 4:30pm
Transylvania County Schools Superintendent Jeff McDaris informed the Transylvania County Board of Education Monday evening that no decision has been made on this year’s graduation ceremonies yet.
“There are some things that we can’t answer at this time,” said McDaris. “Our graduations are to be announced at a later date.”
He said the school system is waiting to see what the state says about the next phase of reopening.
“That will help us determine the dates for what we can and cannot do,” said McDaris.
He said the seniors at both high schools were surveyed and the majority of those responding to the survey opted to hold graduation at a later date.
However, he noted that the participation from Brevard High seniors was low.
McDaris said the school system has received various suggestions for how to hold graduation, but that many of those suggestions violate the current social distancing and mass gathering guidelines.
“We will and must follow the guidelines from our state and local health department,” said McDaris.
He added that a local child was recently confirmed as having COVID-19 and the health and safety of students is the first priority of the school system.
McDaris said he hopes the graduation ceremonies will be “spectacular” events, and the school system is doing certain things to honor seniors. He said that within the established guidelines, schools are having a few seniors come in for photos and to record speeches by those students who usually speak at graduation – the valedictorian, salutatorian, senior class president and student body president.
Board Chair Tawny McCoy said she has a niece that is graduating this spring.
“I feel so much for the graduates and their families,” said McCoy. “We really do care. It’s hard to make these decisions.”
“We miss our students badly. It’s been a tough year,” said McDaris.
Board members also asked McDaris if he has received any information as to how schools will reopen in the fall.
He said all schools across the state are supposed to open for students on Aug. 17 and discussion about reopening schools has been “robust.”
For example, he said there has been discussion among superintendents and other education leaders about the difficulties of keeping students 6 feet apart in the classroom or on a bus. If student bodies are split in half with 50 percent attending schools on A days and 50 percent attending schools on B days, that could still mean 1,200 students could be attending school on the same day in some of the state’s larger high schools.
Board member Courtney Domokur asked if the decisions about reopening would be made at the state or local level.
McDaris said he thinks the state would provide the overarching guidelines for reopening schools but that local districts would determine how to implement those guidelines.
“It will be a blend,” said McDaris, who added that the school system would be working closely with the local health department on reopening the schools.
Domokur said she has a preschool child who would have to wait two weeks at home before being allowed to re-enter preschool if the child travels out of state.
She then said she has a son in the school system who probably would go out of state this summer to play baseball and asked if the same two-week period would apply to him.
McDaris said he was not aware of any such rule for students in grades K-12, but that he would follow up with the health department.
Board attorney Chris Campbell said the state, not local school boards, would create the rules for reopening.
“This is not currently a local decision at all,” said Campbell.