FCPS plans to hold outdoor graduations

Katryna Perera, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·2 min read

Mar. 5—Frederick County Public Schools announced Friday that it plans to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies for the class of 2021, but questions remain as to how the ceremonies will play out.

"[FCPS] is committed to doing all we can to honor the Class of 2021. We are looking forward to celebrating the Class of 2021 at outdoor commencement ceremonies in each of our high school's home stadiums," school system representatives said in a press release.

Set dates and times for each ceremony are to be determined and will largely depend upon health and safety protocols in place within the county and state, especially those that limit the size of gatherings. The current limit is no more than 250 people, which was established by an executive order from Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

Schools Superintendent Terry Alban said in an email that FCPS staff explored multiple options for outdoor venues for graduations. After hearing from high school administrators, Alban said, the administration determined that using each school's outdoor stadium would be the best option.

With the current limit on gatherings larger than 250 people, it is possible schools may have to hold more than one ceremony, Alban said.

"It varies by school. The size of our graduating classes range from about 160 to over 400," she said.

There is also the challenge of figuring out how many family members or friends of each student will be allowed to attend the ceremonies based on what restrictions are in place come June.

"Each high school will be soliciting feedback from students and parents to support planning efforts. I know they will communicate decisions about dates [and] times as soon as possible," Alban said. "We are trying to be as proactive as we can with the information that we have currently available."

A Change.org petition launched Thursday asks Hogan to increase or waive the 250-person limit so that all Maryland seniors can experience a more normal graduation ceremony.

"Please, reconsider this restriction. Time is of the essence! In a few months [seniors] will be moving on to the next stage of their lives," the petition notes. "They have earned the right to celebrate this accomplishment with their entire class and their families."

As of Friday afternoon, it had nearly met its goal of 1,000 signatures.

According to FCPS, families and seniors can expect updates from their individual high schools throughout spring. Additionally, the school system plans to livestream all ceremonies for family members or friends who are unable to attend in-person.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill