NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Local health officials are supporting New Hanover County Schools’ plan for drive-in graduations. A decision that has received pushback from many students and parents.
“NHCS leadership and the graduation task forces that recommended the current graduation plan should be commended for their thoroughness,” Dr. West Paul, Chief Clinical Officer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, say. “It really shows a clear understanding of what we face, AND balances desires to honor students WHILE preventing harm.”
“Regardless of whether state guidance supported in-person graduation events, it would not be the right decision for New Hanover County Schools to hold in-person graduation ceremonies at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Philip Brown, Chief Physician Executive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, says. “COVID-19 continues to be present in our state and in the Cape Fear region. As a result of recent Memorial Day crowds, hospital algorithms project that cases will continue to rise. It would not be safe for New Hanover County Schools to hold graduations in person at this time.”
To comply with state and public health guidelines, all attendees are asked to remain in their vehicle at all times. Vehicles may be left running to provide air conditioning and vehicle assistance services will be on site if needed.
Students are asked to follow law enforcement direction in exiting their vehicles to approach the stage. They should utilize automatic hand sanitizing stations available at stage entry and exit ramps, wear masks, and practice social distancing by maintaining six foot distancing when outside their vehicles. Masks will be provided at the main entrance for students who don’t have their own mask.
NHCS staff on stage handing out diploma covers and diplomas will be wearing protective gloves and masks at all times. There will be no hand shakes when receiving diplomas and students will pose for their portrait as they exit the stage and pick up their diploma so they may remove their mask for the photo.
The school system encourages high risk individuals to view a live stream of high school graduation ceremonies online at NHCS-TV Youtube. Visit www.nhcs.net for more information, a graduation FAQ and links to individual high school websites.