BY OLIVIA CAMERON- Local high school students who graduated this past school term were looking forward to normalcy, with plans to hold graduation ceremonies this summer. The ceremonies were postponed from their original dates to wait out the COVID-19 outbreak in the hope that they could conduct traditional but safe graduations thereafter.
However, all in-person graduation ceremonies for Charlotte County schools that were scheduled for July have now been canceled as a result of the spike in Coronavirus cases.
District spokesperson Michael Riley released the announcement on July 6. “This was an incredibly hard decision, but due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in our community and the health risk associated with large events, we believe this is in the best interest of our graduates, families and the community at large.”
The spread of the virus is facilitated in large gatherings, where social distancing and other protocols cannot be properly observed.
Charlotte County has since decided to hold virtual graduation ceremonies for each of its schools, including Port Charlotte High School, Charlotte Harbor Center, Academy High School, Charlotte Virtual High School, Charlotte High School and Lemon Bay High School.
Riley stated that plans to mix virtual and live ceremonies were up in the air, but the belief was that in-person ceremonies would contradict guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Riley mentioned that some of the parents are more upset than the students. However, many of the graduates have been accustomed to the “new normal,” considering they haven’t attended school in person since March.
As with most events and conferences in 2020, graduates will finish off their high school experience with an online goodbye.
Schools and businesses have attempted to follow evolving safety protocols since experiencing the reopening of communities. As our world gains a better understanding of how to control and diminish the virus, the hard decisions may slow the spread.
The list below provides the dates for each virtual graduation ceremony in Charlotte County.
Port Charlotte High School: July 14
Charlotte Harbor Center: July 14
Academy High School: July 15
Charlotte Virtual High School: July 15
Charlotte High School: July 16
Lemon Bay High School: July 17
These ceremonies will commence on the given days at 7 p.m. at yourcharlotteschools.net.
Within the past week, Florida public schools have been ordered by the Department of Education to reopen in the fall. Schools plan to open the doors unless local health departments say otherwise. Despite the concern for giving the education system some normalcy, many residents wonder what kind of risks our teachers and students will be facing.