APS to postpone graduation ceremonies until July or later

Georgia has not seen dual enrollment participants graduating from college earlier as a result of the credits earned in high school or putting less demand on the HOPE Scholarship.
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Georgia has not seen dual enrollment participants graduating from college earlier as a result of the credits earned in high school or putting less demand on the HOPE Scholarship.

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / Special

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / Special

Atlanta Public Schools will postpone graduation ceremonies until late July or possibly even the fall in an attempt to give students a traditional ceremony.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said an overwhelming majority of high school seniors surveyed said they favored holding off on ceremonies so that they could try to safely gather in-person. She made the announcement during a Facebook live town hall on Thursday.

The district will hold virtual events for high schools during the last week of school, when graduation ceremonies had originally been planned before coronavirus closures.  Students and families will watch those ceremonies online.

Carstarphen said that the district will attempt to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies in late July at Lakewood and Grady football stadiums. Those who attend the ceremony would have to spread out in order to maintain social distancing guidelines, and it will follow all health and safety rules.

Carstarphen cautioned that it will be hot during the summertime ceremonies, so she’s expecting to schedule the events in the morning.

She said the district could hold off on ceremonies until late fall or early winter if it’s still not safe to gather.

“We want to celebrate the class of 2020 because we believe that you are worth the wait for a great graduation ceremony,” she said.

Carstarphen last week gave high school seniors and their families four options on how they could celebrate graduation safely. 

Those alternatives included holding one-hour ceremonies at a local drive-in movie theater, where graduates would not be able to leave their cars. She also said the district could possibly postpone ceremonies until the end of summer or early fall and hold them at the stadium, hold them online, or wait until much later in the fall and try to hold them in a more traditional indoor venue.