The Savannah Civic Center took one decision out of the hands of local school officials who were deciding whether or not to hold a formal graduation at the facility in July after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the usual ceremony in May.
In short, there won’t be one.
“The Civic Center folks contacted us and said they wouldn’t be hosting any events,” Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher said.
This after the school began surveying parents and seniors on whether to go ahead on a formal graduation. But, the apparent success of the system’s “drive-through” graduations at Richmond Hill High School and Bryan County High School and continued social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic led officials to rethink the Civic Center ceremonies – which would’ve cost the system about $25,000 per school.
“I’m just glad we had a successful graduation,” Brooksher said. “We’ve had a lot of positive comments on that and that there was no need for a second graduation.”
That may be settled, but what the first day of school will look like is still up in the air. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday directed the state board of education to come up with “rules, regulations and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education.”
In the meantime, Bryan County Schools is planning on what Brooksher called a “full face to face opening,” on Aug. 5, but there are also plans B and C and so on, as educators try to prepare for different COVID-19 scenarios.
He said he informed parents that they’ll have more information on July 17, but Wednesday reiterated the difficulties faced by school officials trying to make decisions.
Among them, social distancing guidelines alone could make classroom instruction impossible.
“If you have a class where you have 28 kids in a classroom, then separating their desks six feet apart isn’t feasible, so what do you do,” he said. “That’s what we’re having to work through.”
The left school officials hesitant to make announcements on the start of school.
“We don’t want to have to tell parents one thing and then have to come back and tell them something else,” Brooksher said.
But, with social distancing guidelines still in place and certain gatherings still banned, the traditional open houses at each school are canceled. Instead, individual schools could have “drive through open houses” or schedule the events online or through other means, Brooksher said.
“The schools are still working through those plans,” he said.