Berkeley, Dorchester 2 students to attend live, in-person graduation ceremonies in June

Local schools are making plans to hold graduation ceremonies in June to better provide a graduation atmosphere, according to officials with the Berkeley County and Dorchester District Two school diestricts.

High school graduation is a major milestone for many students. But school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that in-person commencement ceremonies across the state were in jeopardy, as health officials warned about the consequences of large gatherings.

Still, some school districts announced plans last week to host modified in-person graduations, as Gov. Henry McMaster relaxed social gathering restrictions and allowed some businesses to reopen.

As a result, more than two dozen districts across the state have opted to host some form of in-person graduation, a S.C. Department of Education spokesman told The Post and Courier on Thursday.

In order to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, the Berkeley County School District and Dorchester District Two outlined some additional graduation protocol for students and their families to follow.

Most of the ceremonies will take place outside at high school football stadiums, where students will be “positioned several feet apart on the field in compliance with social distancing guidelines,” according to the district’s website .

Each graduating senior will be allowed four guests. Each guest will receive a ticket and anyone without a ticket will not be allowed entry. Guest seating in the stadium will be spaced out, and pre-marked. No more than four guests can sit together in one area.

“The graduation ceremony experience may be different from years past; however, we are committed to ensuring that it is memorable for our seniors and their parents in light of necessary restrictions,” Superintendent Eddie Ingram said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing and celebrating the BCSD Class of 2020.”

Dorchester District Two graduation programs had originally been rescheduled for July 17th in the N. Charleston Coliseum.

Ashley Ridge graduation will be June 10 at Fox Swamp Stadium. Fort Dorchester will hold graduation June 9 at John Bagwell Stadium. Summerville graduation is June 8 at McKissick Field in Memorial Stadium.

All programs will begin at 7:30 a.m. with gates opening at 6 a.m. Each graduate will receive two tickets for guests along with one parking pass.

The graduation program will also be live-streamed to allow family members and friends the opportunity to view the ceremony.

In the event of inclement weather, the outdoor programs will be rescheduled.

A graduation survey sent out to seniors and their families helped guide the district’s decision, he said.

The district will also release more information on how families can access a livestream “via a variety of different methods.” Any outdoor ceremonies will be rescheduled if there’s bad weather.

The Berkeley County School District will host in-person graduation ceremonies in June as well.

Guidelines will be in place to ensure the safety of all those who attend the ceremony.

Seating will be measured out and those in attendance will have designated and pre-marked seating areas. No more than four ticketed individuals will be allowed to sit in a designated area. They will need to remain in those areas before during and after the ceremony, no one other than graduates and school staff will be allowed on the field.

“We appreciate the response of our seniors and their parents to our graduation ceremony survey,” said BCSD Superintendent Eddie Ingram. “The feedback provided helped guide the decision to host in-person graduation ceremonies on our school campuses. The graduation ceremony experience may be different from years past; however, we are committed to ensuring that it is memorable for our seniors and their parents in light of necessary restrictions. We look forward to seeing and celebrating the BCSD Class of 2020.”

Jenna Schiferl contributed to this story. Reach her at jschiferl@postandcourier.com

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