What Will High School Graduations Look Like for Montgomery County? Take a Glance at the Approved Guidelines

Heather Jauquet

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For seniors graduating from Montgomery County Public School, there is a shift from the traditional off-campus ceremonies. Pre-pandemic many MCPS high Schools held their graduations at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. With health and safety protocols in place, high schools will hold outdoor graduations at their respective high school stadiums beginning June 2 through June 17, 2021.

There are rain dates in place in the case of inclement weather. Ceremonies will be at 9am or 6pm. The ceremonies at Rock Terrace, Stephen Knolls, and Longview schools will be held at their respective locations 10am.

During the County Council meeting, Councilmember Hans Reimer requested information on the graduation ceremonies for MCPS seniors. In speaking with Dr. Gayles and Dr. Stoddard, “I encourage you to work on the waivers and to grant them. Kids need to graduate. They need to have the ceremony. Let the senior class be together at least once this year.”

MCPS has submitted a waiver to the Montgomery County Council requesting each graduate be allowed a maximum of 2 guests. MCPS feels confident that the waivers will be granted as the MCPS guidelines align with the guidelines set forth by the County Council. 

While there will be COVID protocols in place, MCPS says that the ceremonies will follow a similar format to past in-person graduations, although graduation rehearsal will be held virtually using a webinar experience. 

In response to Senior traditions taking place, but still following safety guidelines, a “Senior Day” will be implemented as an outdoor alternate to indoor proms. Senior Day will be held throughout May via the students’ respected schools. Check with your student's high school for more information on Senior Day.

The County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, has issued the following guidelines in response to high school graduations. The guidance would include the following infectious disease controls according to the Fourth Amended Board of Health Regulations:

  1. the total number of persons present at an outdoor graduation ceremony must be limited to 50% of the outdoor venue’s maximum occupancy;

2. 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;

3. the total number of persons present at an indoor graduation ceremony is limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy or 250 people, whichever is smaller;

4. a school that plans an indoor graduation ceremony must obtain a Letter of Approval for their plan showing how it would meet the general requirements of the Regulation;

5. a record of everyone attending the graduation must be kept for 30 days to enable contact tracing;

6. the school must identify a point of contact for an attendee to notify if they test positive for COVID-19 within 2 weeks after the event, and the point of contact must notify DHHS within 1 business day of notice of a positive test;

7. no more than 10 persons can be on the stage at one time;

8. the ceremony must last no more than 2 hours;

9. members of the audience from different households must remain at least 6 feet apart at all times;

10. signage explaining the infectious control requirements must be posted at the venue;

11. no group or staged photography;

12. no congregating or gathering in common areas both inside and outside of the venue before or after the ceremony;

13. 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;

14. diplomas must be distributed without handshakes or physical contact; and

15. no food or beverage concessions at the ceremony.

The information can be found HERE.

Do you have a graduating senior in Montgomery County? What do you think of the following safety protocols put in place for high school graduation? Let me know in the comments.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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