RCPS Superintendent Terry Oatts: In-person graduation ceremonies to be held, not proms

Terry Oatts 22

To our Parents, Personnel, and Community Stakeholders:

 

As we continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students and staff members during this public health crisis, we have had to make numerous decisions during this past year. Some of our decisions were not particularly popular, while others were viewed more favorably. As Superintendent, I make numerous decisions on a daily basis, and I accept and respect that not everyone will agree with all of my decisions. That said, I will always make the decisions that I believe are ultimately best for our students.

 

As we plan for the remainder of this school year, I have decided that we will proceed with in-person formal graduation ceremonies at each high school’s stadium. Our dates have been set for these graduation ceremonies as follows:

 

  • Salem High School, May 26, 2021
  • Rockdale County High School and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, May 27, 2021
  • Heritage High School, May 28, 2021

 

I have further determined that we will not hold proms this school year as we will instead focus on coordinating and planning the safest and most dignified graduation ceremonies possible. As a former high school principal, I fully understand the priority that our students place on time-honored rituals such as proms and graduation ceremonies. After careful consultation with our high school principals and our Assistant Superintendent for High Schools, I’ve decided that our singular focus should be on ensuring safe and successful graduation ceremonies at each of our high schools as we conclude the 2020-21 School Year. The logistics of attempting to safely host hundreds of seniors and their dates in formal attire within enclosed space for an event that is typically characterized by close congregant gathering, dancing, eating and mingling are simply not feasible. While we’ve considered other ideas such as an outside prom, the typical hot and humid spring weather even with tents would not make for the most comfortable experience involving hundreds of students in formal attire such as tuxedos and gowns.

 

Again, this is not a decision I make lightly but I most definitely make this decision in the interest of student and staff safety and well-being and the well-being of the community in Rockdale County.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Terry O. Oatts, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Rockdale County Public Schools

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