Drive-in diploma? Dept. of Education issues guidance on graduation ceremonies
PROVIDENCE, R.I.– The Rhode Island Department of Education has issued guidance on high school graduations in a statement Monday, in order to help schools comply with the governor’s orders on social distancing and gatherings.
With limits on gatherings still in place toward the end of the summer– in a best-case scenario, this would still prevent groups of 50 or more– schools should start making plans for ceremony that comply with executive orders, the department said.
One suggestion RIDE offered was to utilize the state’s two drive-in movie theaters– the Rustic in North Smithfield, and the Misquamicut in Westerly– and project speeches on the screen. Audio could be delivered over a radio frequency or a loudspeaker.
RIDE also suggested schools could create a make-shift drive-in on their parking lots, or utilize another location, like one of the campuses of the Community College of Rhode Island.
Cars would still have to maintain the six feet of distancing, and keep windows rolled up. RIDE said, and there could be no handshakes or the handing-out of diplomas in-person.
Schools should reach out to venues to determine availability, the department said.
Platforms such as Zoom or Facebook and Instagram Live can broadcast valedictorian speeches and a reading off of names, the department suggested. A Zoom license can be obtained to host 500 or even 1,000 people RIDE said.
Schools could also work with a television broadcaster to air a prerecorded ceremony. RIDE suggested contacting Capitol TV, which broadcasts the state’s General Assembly, as one option. More information is available by contacting Margie O’Brien at MOBrien@rilegislature.gov .
As schools have considered setting up a platform for students to walk across, RIDE said the governor’s orders would still have to apply. This means all participants would be required to stand 6-feet apart and wear masks at all times.
Participants would be limited to five people, including school staff and a photographer. Any touched surface would have to be disinfected, and students and staff would have to be screened for symptoms beforehand, the department said.
More information and resources on RIDE’s COVID-19 response can be found on the department’s website.
©WLNE-TV/ABC 6 2020