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Barrington school officials alter graduation plans

Students will be allowed to remove face coverings for photos; some call for more changes

Posted 5/25/20

Barrington school officials recently made some changes to the high school graduation plan, following suggestions and feedback from students and their families.

The updated plan still calls for a …

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Barrington school officials alter graduation plans

Students will be allowed to remove face coverings for photos; some call for more changes

Posted

Barrington school officials recently made some changes to the high school graduation plan, following suggestions and feedback from students and their families.

The updated plan still calls for a virtual graduation ceremony but allows for students to briefly remove their face coverings while posing for photos during the video-recorded portion of the event. (The ceremony is being filmed and compiled this week and next, and will be aired online on June 7.)

According to the latest plan, each student will be assigned a time to report to Victory Field at the high school this week. Students and their families will arrive by car and park in front of the bleachers at the football field.

"Car windows must remain closed at all times during the procession," stated the email from school officials.

Each graduate can be accompanied by two family members — all must be wearing face coverings — and walk to the stage set up on the football field. School officials said all other family members must remain in their cars "with the windows closed during the proceedings."

The graduate's name will be announced and a video will be recorded as the student crosses the stage. The graduate will pause and hold up his or her diploma jacket for a photograph.

"Masks may only be removed briefly while on the stage during photos, all staff will continue to wear their masks," stated officials in an email. "Mr. (Joe) Hurley (BHS Principal) will be at a distance behind plexiglass at all times."

Some parents of BHS students are calling for a more significant change to the high school graduation plans.

An email from one parent detailed the frustrations and concerns some are feeling about the virtual graduation, specifically noting the challenges surrounding filming the ceremony more than a week prior to the actual graduation date and while students are still in class.

"Our kids deserve better than a rushed graduation," the parent wrote, adding that the email regarding the updated graduation plan "sent parents over the edge" as four years of hard work by students would be recognized with a five-minute videotaped ceremony.

"Five minutes for four years of hard work is so disheartening," it stated.

The email also questioned why school officials were not more receptive to delaying the graduation ceremony until later in the summer. More than 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for Barrington school officials to push back the graduation until a later date when an actual in-person event could be held.

"Since then we’ve had multiple emails from administration and not once have (they) told us why this isn’t an option," it stated.

The email also stated that Rhode Island's graduation guidelines were written in late April and are not in line with the current situation. (The Ocean State is poised to move into Phase II of its reopening plan on June 1, six days prior to the planned BHS graduation.)

Meanwhile, Massachusetts school officials will reportedly allow for graduation ceremonies held July 19 or later to take place outside under certain restrictions (and assuming the public health data supports the continued reopening of the state).

"My community is distraught," stated the parent's email. "We cannot figure out why Barrington is rushing a virtual graduation that clearly has many issues. It’s poorly organized, rushed and does not represent our children’s hard work and wishes."

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