Graduation was a big topic of interest at the Lawrence County Board of Education’s monthly meeting last Thursday.
The board convened via zoom for their meeting due to Covid-19 issues. It’s those same issues that have graduation plans for 2020 in flux.
Normally graduation would start at the end of this month. However, schools all across Alabama have been closed since mid-March. While things have certainly gotten better in recent weeks, it is still unsure if things will be back to normal enough in time for graduation to go on scheduled.
That was the sentiment expressed by the board Thursday evening.
“We’re exploring our options but right now there is no definite plans,” said Superintendent Jon Bret Smith. “We would like to have as many people present as possible at these graduations. “These seniors deserve to be recognized. They’ve put a lot of hard work and this is supposed to be the biggest educational event in their lives so far. They deserve the recognition for that.”
Dr. Smith was asked to expound on graduation plans, fielding the question on whether or not a traditional ceremony would be possible.
“That’s the million-dollar question. Right now, I think everyone is just waiting to see what Governor (Kay) Ivey decides to do after the safer at home order ends on May 15. We’re expecting to hear something around May 11,” Smith said. “A lot of talk around the state has been of having graduation in small groups. We’re still committed to having traditional ceremony, even if it means pushing it back to July or August. Right now, it’s just a wait and see game though.”
Smith also gave an update on where athletics sits going into the summer and then the fall, as well as where the school system’s finances sit and what business they will be encountering in the coming month.
“The AHSAA has plans for workouts in the summer in the hope of continuing athletics in the fall as normal,” he said. “We feel that the athletes need at least eight weeks of conditioning to safely be ready for sports so that would put the timeline around June. That’s the plan as of now unless there are significant changes.”
The board feels very well about where their finances sit during this rough time.
“We’ve been very committed to finance here in Lawrence County and we’re very fortunate to have stability during this pandemic,” Smith said. “We’ve been saving for a rainy day and that has paid dividends. Thankfully we don’t have anybody that’s having to worry about their pay during this time.”
May serves as hiring season for the board of education and Smith says the board is still working diligently on hiring “the best people possible” and that they hope to have most of their hires completed by the end of May.