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Carroll to delay commencement ceremony

District doesn't plan to move up start of school year

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The Carroll Community School District will delay its commencement ceremony, originally planned for this Sunday.

With the coronavirus pandemic throwing a wrench in graduation plans across the country, Carroll administrators and students originally had looked into the possibility of keeping the May 24 date for commencement — contemplating a hybrid ceremony that would virtually broadcast speeches and the reading of students' names, followed by a "drive-up" event that would allow students and families to drive through the Carroll High School parking lot to pick up their diplomas.

However, after meeting with Carroll County Public Health officials, school administrators determined that a later date is more feasible for this year's commencement ceremony. An outdoor ceremony to be held at the Carroll Athletic Field tentatively is planned for Saturday, June 27, with a rain date of Sunday, June 28. If a June commencement isn't possible, a second proposed date is Saturday, July 25, with a rain date of Sunday, July 26. The school plans to hold the ceremony at 7 p.m.

Anticipating a continued need to limit crowds, the school likely would only allow each student to have four people in the audience, Carroll Schools Superintendent Casey Berlau said.

The adjusted plans reflect requests from Carroll County Public Health that a commencement ceremony would be held outdoors, and wouldn't be scheduled in May.

The school also is exploring adjusted plans for another end-of-year tradition: honoring retiring and leaving employees. A virtual recognition ceremony will be held next week, with tentative plans to invite as many retiring employees as possible to return in August for an in-person ceremony if larger gatherings are permitted at that time, Berlau said.

Regarding the start of the next school year, the district still plans to start school on its originally-planned date of Aug. 25, despite new guidance from the state that allows districts to start the school year early if they choose. That decision was coordinated with the Kuemper Catholic School System and Ar-We-Va Community School District. 

"We still think there's unknowns, and we think we'll probably need all the time we can to be prepared for August 25," Berlau said.

If schools still aren't able to have their full student body meet in person in the fall because of the pandemic, the state will require them to have a mandatory learning plan in place for students, in contrast to the end of this school year, during which schools could make its learning plans voluntary, as Carroll did. The district must submit a "Return to Learn" plan to the Department of Education by July 1.

"We're hopeful that we'll all be here on August 25 and back to feeling somewhat normal," Berlau said, adding that if that's not the case, various subcommittees will work throughout the summer to create a cohesive plan for the start of the school year.

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