READING - The plans for graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 is coming into focus as Reading Memorial High School Principal Kate Boynton has notified parents of seniors to save the dates of Sunday July 26, and Sunday August 2, for graduation.
Boynton informed the Chronicle that current plans are for an evening ceremony on one of the above dates or a split ceremony on both of the dates.
According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Doherty the graduation ceremony planning is following guidelines recently released by the State Department of Education. Any graduation ceremony plan will have to be approved by the Reading Board of Health.
Reading’s graduation planners are eyeing a late summer date after the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) last week advised against holding any in-person ceremony before July 18.
In guidelines distributed to public school officials across the state on May 21, DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley contended any graduation event for the Class of 2020 that is held before July 18 should be conducted in a virtual setting or be limited to activities such as car parades.
According to Riley, beginning on July 19, outside events can be arranged, but only if a myriad of precautions are taken light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riley also stipulated his right to modify his graduation timetables in the event of a secondary outbreak of the virus.
“Any graduation ceremony held outside must be in an unconfined outdoor space that can accommodate social distancing and the flow of air. Tents or other enclosed spaces are not permitted,” wrote Riley of outdoor events.
Other notable conditions the state recommends be placed on graduation ceremonies include the following:
• Spectators be limited to the immediate family members of Class of 2020 members;
• That all guests be required to pre-register for the event, while children under the age of 5 and “older adults’ be discouraged from participating;
• Graduates and guests must be seated at least six-feet apart from one another (though persons from the same household may sit closer to one another);
•Graduates must enter and exit the ceremony while spaced at least six-feet apart;
• Facial coverings will be mandatory at all times by graduates and guests (except for rare exceptions);
• Hugging and handshaking is prohibited at the event;
• Food and drink will be prohibited, while hand sanitizing stations should be established by all entrances and exits.