Wicomico County Schools Decide On Virtual Graduations

SALISBURY – Wicomico County Public Schools announced it will hold virtual graduations this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school system will prepare to air virtual commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 this spring as public health restrictions continue.

“We wish the Class of 2020 could graduate with the usual pomp and circumstance, but current health restrictions do not allow for a large gathering like traditional commencement,” Superintendent Donna Hanlin said in a message last week. “The photos taken when students walk in cap and gown will be available to families and will become part of a virtual commencement ceremony that will air on PAC 14 and YouTube at each high school’s scheduled graduation time. This, along with other special celebrations being done by each high school, are part of our sincere effort to give the Class of 2020 the sendoff its graduates and families deserve.”

In preparation for the virtual commencement ceremonies, schools spent the beginning of this week distributing caps, gowns, cords and hoods to seniors using drive-by visits. And starting next week, students and adults giving speeches will record them in the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

Seniors will walk in cap and gown for traditional diploma cover photos at an assigned time between May 19-22 with up to four parents present, according to the school system. Photos from this day will be included in each school’s virtual commencement ceremony and will be available for students and parents.

“All of the tasks that are part of virtual commencement ceremonies will be done while maintaining social distancing and practicing federal- and state-recommended cleaning procedures to protect the health and safety of all involved,” a statement reads. “Participation in these activities is optional. If a student or parent does not feel comfortable participating, the senior will still be included in the virtual commencement ceremony through the senior yearbook photo.”

Virtual commencement ceremonies will air on PAC 14 and will be available on YouTube to view and download. Although the school system will capture graduation-style photos May 19-22, school will continue for seniors through their last day on Friday, May 22. Diplomas, commencement programs and any other senior awards or paperwork will be mailed at a later date.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.