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APS exploring ‘clever’ ways to celebrate class of 2020 amid virus shutdown

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said on Thursday that she’s looking for clever ways to honor the district’s 2020 graduates amid coronavirus shutdowns.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said on Thursday that she’s looking for clever ways to honor the district’s 2020 graduates amid coronavirus shutdowns.

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / Special

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / Special

The Atlanta Public Schools superintendent said she hasn’t made a decision yet about how to honor the class of 2020, but wants to find a way to recognize graduates even though school buildings have been closed for the school year.

Gov. Brian Kemp this week ordered the state’s public school buildings to remain closed to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus, prompting districts to scurry for alternatives to traditional high school graduation ceremonies.

In an online news conference Thursday, Carstarphen told reporters that she’s exploring many options and asking for ideas from schools. The ceremonies could move to an online format, but Carstarphen said she’s also trying to see if there are any other “really clever and different” ways to mark the occasion while not exposing people to the virus.

“If we were allowed some way to still have some opportunity to bring people together safely, I know there’s a desire to still have a graduation,” she said. “I’m not giving up on graduation yet. We are going to fight hard.”

She said any event would have to be done safely and while observing any shelter-in-place rules that may be in effect at the time.

Carstarphen plans to answer questions about the district's coronavirus response and distance learning plan at a town hall today at noon on Facebook.

Atlanta high school graduations have been scheduled to begin May 16. Most high schools had planned to use Georgia Institute of Technology's McCamish Pavilion as the venue.

Carstarphen said the district would ideally want to keep the same schedule, but she doesn’t think that will be possible.