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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Fort Smith School District releases information on graduation ceremony options

Fort Smith Public Schools Releases Graduation Update

Fort Smith Public Schools is committed to providing a

memorable graduation experience for the Northside and Southside Classes of 2020 and their families. We continue to work toward hosting graduation on July 6 (Northside) and July 7 (Southside).

It is important that graduation plans closely approximate the look and feel of past graduation ceremonies and celebrate students’ accomplishments while meeting state requirements and otherwise promoting student safety. Safety and logistical concerns require consideration of different dates, times, locations, and procedures. Some of these factors are listed below:

● Restrictions require that graduates and their families wear appropriate PPE and maintain recommended physical distancing between family groups.

● In the summer, the synthetic turf on the football fields can increase the surface temperature from 40-70 degrees higher than the temperature of the surrounding air.

Seating students on turf fields in caps, gowns, and state-required masks in the July heat would create safety risks for our graduates.

● Current restrictions for large outdoor venues limit capacity of facilities to 66%. Due to construction at both high schools, parking is highly limited. Shuttles that would be necessary because of the limited parking at the school sites would have limited capacity and have to be thoroughly cleaned after each group of people are transported from a parking location to the respective stadium.

The option to modify graduation ceremonies and move them to an indoor venue, like the Fort Smith Convention Center, continues to be explored by the District administration in conversation with school principals, health officials, and the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Students and families have shared input through a March 25 survey on graduation as well as graduation surveys sent to each class on Monday, June 15. When asked, 77% of Southside respondents and 80% of Northside respondents said they will participate in

graduation ceremonies regardless of time, location and order of ceremony.

We look forward to sharing more detailed information as the planning process continues. Until then, we ask for your patience and support.

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