After NC mask rules change, here’s how some school districts are doing graduation

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools still has restrictions in place for upcoming high school graduation ceremonies, despite North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper easing statewide mandates on mask-wearing and crowd-size limits again last week.

Some school systems in the region have changed their graduation plans as a result of Cooper’s orders, while at least one district is still deciding on possible tweaks to its plans.

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In April, CMS said graduation ceremonies would be in-person May 24-June 5, but due to the pandemic, the school system would limit the number of guests. The ceremonies are scheduled for Bojangles Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium and Charlotte Convention Center, the district announced in a statement.

As of Tuesday, restrictions at CMS ceremonies still include:

No more than two guests (parent/guardian) allowed.

Face coverings required.

Families/guests social distancing and sitting at least 6 feet apart from other families.

No more than 30% capacity of the venue allowed.

Previous CMS guidance for fifth- and eighth-grade promotion ceremonies also has not changed in the weeks since Cooper’s orders, according to CMS.

Neighboring school systems

Some school systems in the region have changed their graduation plans as a result of Cooper’s orders, while at least one district, Union County Public Schools, is still deciding on possible changes.

Mooresville Graded School District: Because Cooper lifted social distancing and crowd-size restrictions, Mooresville High School switched back to its traditional one Saturday morning graduation ceremony at Coach Joe Popp Stadium, district spokeswoman Tanae Sump-McLean said Tuesday.

In April, the district approved holding two ceremonies, including one the night before the traditional Saturday morning event, to limit crowd size, she said. Mooresville High is the only high school in the district.

In a message to parents, school officials said they still “strongly urge” everyone to wear a mask at the ceremony, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 29, Sump-McLean said.

For people still concerned about being in a crowd, areas will be made available where social distancing can be better maintained, according to Sump-McLean. And the ceremony will be livestreamed, she said.

Cabarrus County Schools: The school system has no plans to change its graduation protocols for the Class of 2021, spokeswoman Ronnye Boone said.

Each graduate will receive at least 10 tickets depending on the size of the graduating class, she said.

Because the ceremonies will be outside at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, masks are not required but are “strongly encouraged” where social distancing isn’t possible, according to a graduation Q&A posted on the school system website.

Families and other groups are asked to leave two seats open between other families and groups.

Everyone entering the speedway will undergo a security screening, but not a temperature check, district officials said.

Iredell-Statesville Schools: The system lifted capacity limits for each of its five high school graduations, after N.C. schools Superintendent Catherine Truitt on Monday sent a memo to districts that such limits were no longer required, Iredell-Statesville spokeswoman Boen Nutting said.

“All of our graduations are outside, so masks are not required,” Nutting said in an email. “Originally we needed to limit capacity, so we were issuing a limited number of tickets for each graduate. Now that we have lifted that capacity limit, we are able to accommodate more guests.”

Union County Public Schools: School officials were still discussing options and expect to update graduation plans later this week, spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte said Tuesday.

Gaston County Schools: A district spokesman didn’t reply to a request for comment by the Observer on Tuesday.

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