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Fort Smith Schools reevaluate graduation plans

Fort Smith Public Schools officials are reevaluating graduation plans for the class of 2020 after cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the state.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Fort Smith Public Schools are reevaluating graduation plans for the class of 2020.

This comes after Arkansas continues to see a rise in COVID-19 cases.

"On June 15, we sent a second Graduation survey by text message to understand how many of you plan to participate in the late graduation ceremonies. 77% of Southside respondents and 80% of Northside respondents said they will participate in graduation ceremonies regardless of time, location and order of ceremony," officials with FSPS wrote in an announcement. 

Considering all of the factors, graduation ceremonies at the Convention Center may be one of the most viable options, officials said.

Here are a few details regarding this proposal:

  • Graduates may sign up for a specific hour to participate in their respective ceremony.
  • Families may accompany their graduates through the graduation line.
  • The event begins as the graduate and family enter the Convention Center at the South Rotunda. Each graduate and family member will be screened upon entry and then move as a group through the convention hallways.
  • The graduation ceremony in progress in the North Rotunda and graduation speakers will be broadcast to televisions spaced along the hallways.
  • Families may visit with one another as long as physical distance is maintained among the different groups.
  • Activities for graduates and their families will be set up along the way.
  • Once the graduate and family arrive in the North Rotunda, the family will be invited to observe as their graduate walks across the stage to receive a well-earned diploma from the principal, the superintendent and the school board.
  • A professional photographer will be set up to capture these graduation highlights, so that families do not have to do so.

According to officials, this plan is approved by the Arkansas Department of Health and the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education for FSPS. However, the district is waiting on word of a final approval that must be submitted by the Fort Smith Convention Center. Other plans may be submitted.

The district released the following statement saying in part:

"July 6 and 7 are only a few days away. As a result, it appears appropriate to postpone graduations again. Another set of make-up dates can be selected once more options are examined and documented in more detail. 

The district has reserved July 16-17, August 10-11, and December 17-18 with the Fort Smith Convention Center for this purpose. It is also possible that FSPS could host graduation at the Convention Center sometime in July and provide a more-traditional option at the schools in the future.

We share your frustrations. You need to graduate, and your principals need to be about the business of planning for the coming school year. We will continue to advise you as details and plans solidify. Thank you for your continued support and patience. We look forward to celebrating with you soon." 

Click here to read the full statement from the district. 

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