Prince William School Board asks governor to waive 6-foot social distance for diplomas | Securities


Prince William County is asking Gov. Ralph Northam to waive the six-foot distance requirements for outdoor graduation ceremonies next month, asking his office not to impose any distance restrictions or limit gatherings to one maximum distance of three feet.

In a letter to the Northam office on behalf of the school board, President Babur Lateef said the six-foot restriction would limit the number of tickets available for many degrees to just two per student, despite experts agreeing to outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is very difficult.

The ceremonies are also expected to take place one to two weeks before Northam himself says all state restrictions could be lifted if the number of cases in Virginia continues to decline. The six-foot distance requirement is outlined in an executive order from Northam that went into effect on May 15.

“We understand the challenges you face as you work to keep all Virginians safe during the pandemic. … In light of recent CDC guidelines and scientific data regarding outdoor event safety and increasing vaccination rates in our community, our waiver request fits well within acceptable safety guidelines, ”states the letter.

Prince William School Division is currently planning 15 high school diplomas, most of which are scheduled for June 3-8 (PACE West School will be holding its ceremony on May 24 at its premises). Eleven of the ceremonies will take place at Jiffy Lube Live, an amphitheater with 10,444 reserved seats, with the largest graduating classes being over 750 students.

“[The order’s] the six-foot rule has the practical effect of reducing our capacity to about 3,000. With 750 graduates, that leaves at best 2,250 tickets to distribute to graduates and staff, ”wrote Lateef. “The actual logistics of the six-foot guide limit each family’s participation to about two tickets. Invariably, grandparents, siblings, friends – or even parents – will be prevented from celebrating this rite of passage. At the very least, a standard of three feet would allow the possibility of 4 to 5 tickets per family. “

According to Lateef, Jiffy Lube Live tells the division that she wants all ceremonies to have assigned seats because social distancing would be difficult to control on the lawn and the venue doesn’t want to go against the order. by allowing to get closer. seats.

Lateef told InsideNoVa the division can make adjustments at any time if Northam agrees to relinquish the order, but would like to have a response as soon as possible to allow families to plan. He said a number of surrounding divisions were requesting a similar waiver from Northam and Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni.

“The ridiculous thing is you have to be six feet apart on the outside, inside the schools building we have them three feet apart,” Lateef told InsideNoVa. “I told the governor about it, he works there. But I don’t know if the health department will oppose it.

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news in Northern Virginia. Contact him at [email protected]

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