Access to COVID-19 coverage is provided at no cost as a public service. There is always free access to certain other parts of the website. Current print subscribers can activate their access to all of the website and E-editions at no cost by going here. For a print and electronic (website/E-edition) subscription or electronic only subscription, go here.

Input on three potential high school graduation ceremony concepts is being sought from Wilkes County’s seniors as part of the planning process for marking this occasion, said Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd.

Byrd said seniors at the five Wilkes high schools are being contacted to indicate in a short survey if they prefer virtual ceremonies, drive-up or drive-through ceremonies or delaying graduation ceremonies to a time when attendance numbers won’t have to be as limited.

He said that if any members of the class of 2020 haven’t been contacted yet by their schools, they will shortly. Byrd encouraged them to provide feedback. 

While all of this may look different from what has been done before, members of the class of 2020 should decide what their ceremonies look like, said Byrd. “We are there to celebrate them, so why not let them tell us what they feel is best?”

“We want to do everything we can to make this a special time for the 654 members of the class of 2020 in Wilkes County, while ensuring their safety and well-being,” he added.

“Our hearts go out to these seniors for the way their last year of high school is ending, but I continue to hear stories of how they are dealing with adversity. I truly believe the class of 2020 may be more resilient than many who graduated before them because of this pandemic,” Byrd stated.

He said Gov. Roy Cooper provided guidance to superintendents on high school graduation ceremonies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 1.

Byrd said social distancing guidelines in place when the ceremonies are held will have to be followed, as well as all guidance from executive orders. Local guidelines could be a factor as well. 

He said information on decisions and dates and times of ceremonies will be provided as soon as possible, but all five high schools will plan similar ceremonies once all this data is gathered and decisions are made.

Byrd expressed appreciation for the community support shown for the class of 2020 and said he hopes to see it continue throughout the summer months. 

Elementary, middle schools

Byrd said that due to the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of social distancing, the Wilkes County Schools won’t host drive-through awards ceremonies or promotion activities elementary or middle schools to conclude the 2019-20 school year.

He said that after discussing it with the Wilkes Board of Education and with advice from the board’s attorney, this decision was made in the best interest of the safety and health of students and the community as a whole.

“As the numbers of positive cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout our county, we felt this decision was in everyone’s best interest,” Byrd said.

“While our entire district is very proud of the accomplishments of the students in these grade levels, we feel this difficult decision is in the best interest of their safety. We look forward to having multiple opportunities to celebrate their accomplishments for many years to come.”

Byrd specifically referenced the class of 2024 (current eighth-graders about to start high school), the class of 2027 (current fifth-graders transitioning to middle school in 2020-21) and the class of 2032 (current kindergarten students about to start first grade) and stated that great things are expected from all of these students.

Schools will still schedule days for students to collect their personal belongings and turn in textbooks and technology devices, as these events are easier to maintain social distancing.

Both elementary and middle schools will still have the opportunity to arrange virtual awards ceremonies or recognitions that don’t require gatherings on school campuses.

Sign Up For Newsletters

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.