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Charleston County School District details in-person graduation ceremony plans for June, July

Military Magnet (copy)

Military Magnet Academy held a parade for the graduating class of 2020 on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Seniors, in their cap and gowns, drove past the school to the cheers of faculty, staff and family members. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Charleston County high school seniors will receive their diplomas in front of their teachers and peers in June and July via modified in-person graduation ceremonies. 

Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait disclosed specific details Tuesday to board members of what the district's high school graduation ceremonies will look like, when they will take place and what students can expect.

Drive-thru events and football stadiums are among the ideas.

Earlier this month, the school district announced plans to host virtual, live-streamed graduation ceremonies June 8, with an in-person event to follow. But there were few details about the ceremonies available until Postlewait presented them to board members online Tuesday. 

Fifteen schools have established dates for in-person graduation ceremonies so far. The earliest events will take place June 12, while other ceremonies are scheduled for July.

Some schools will utilize a drive-through diploma ceremony, much like the event hosted earlier this month at the Medical University of South Carolina, Postlewait said.

Others will take place outside at high school football stadiums.

Special arrangements will be made for students entering the military who might need to receive their diploma earlier.

"We wanted to make sure ... our seniors know we have always wanted to celebrate them in every possible way," Postlewait said. "We want to do that safely though, to take care of them, their families and our community." 

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High school graduation is a major milestone for students, but health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic put many in-person commencement ceremonies in jeopardy.

After Gov. Henry McMaster closed public schools across the state in mid-March, some school districts announced they would only host virtual ceremonies for the class of 2020. Since then, more than two dozen districts across the state have said they will host some form of in-person ceremony for their seniors. 

High schools in Berkeley and Dorchester counties will both host in-person commencement events, officials announced earlier this month. 

Virtual graduations in Charleston County will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube on June 8 at 7 p.m. The events will feature student and administrator remarks, in addition to an individual slide shown to congratulate each graduate. 

During Tuesday's meeting, Postlewait also updated the board on CCSD's efforts to plan for the eventual re-opening of schools.

Part of those plans include forming a reactivation task force that includes representatives from MUSC, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, school principals, teachers, parents and board members. The first task force meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held June 5. 

The district is hoping it will not need to implement staggered schedules for students in the fall, Postlewait said, but the idea hasn't been ruled out entirely.

The district anticipates some students will return to in-person classes sometime around the second week of August, she said. 

The next scheduled board meeting will take place on June 8.

Contact Jenna Schiferl at 843-937-5764. Follow her on Twitter at @jennaschif.

Jenna Schiferl is a Columbia native and an education reporter at The Post and Courier. Her work has been featured in Garnet & Black Magazine, South Carolina Living and Jasper Magazine.

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