Atlanta Public Schools Plans to Hold Virtual Graduations in May, Traditional Ceremonies Later, Possibly in July

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Atlanta Public Schools plans to hold virtual graduation celebrations for the Class of 2020 in May, respecting social gathering restrictions in Georgia due to COVID-19, and delaying traditional ceremonies until the summer or a later safe date that adheres to Georgia Department of Health guidance.

The district reached this decision based on input from graduating seniors across all 14 high schools.

Of the more than 1,650 APS seniors surveyed, an overwhelming percentage expressed interest for a delayed open-air (78%) or fall (71%) ceremony while fewer did so for a virtual ceremony from home (19%) or a local drive-in theater (27%) in May. Seniors originated #WorthTheWait, emphasizing their desires to walk on stage in their caps and gowns, even if delayed.

As part of the proposal, APS will:

Conduct a virtual celebration during the regular graduation season between May 18 and 21 and plan for a traditional graduation program for each school when State and Department of Health guidelines allow.

Work with schools to coordinate creative efforts for families to engage in at their homes and with their loved ones before and during the ceremony.

Coordinate diploma delivery in May through mail or some other safe distribution method.

For the traditional ceremonies, APS is considering dates in late July using Lakewood and Grady stadiums as possible venues. If ceremonies must be delayed further, the district is considering other venues or ticketed ceremonies at each school, possibly scheduling them during the Thanksgiving or winter breaks to maximize attendance of graduates and their families.