- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2021

No group photos will be permitted and no hanging around to chat with classmates after the commencement ceremony. Those are just two rules officials in one Maryland county are considering for high school graduations this spring.

The Montgomery County Council is looking at amending health regulations to include new infectious disease controls ahead of graduation season.

Council members have proposed adding the following safety protocols for school graduation ceremonies: 

  • Limiting the total number of persons present at an outdoor graduation ceremony to 50% capacity 
  • Using 40 square feet per person to calculate the occupancy limit if an outdoor venue doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy 
  • Limiting the total number of persons present at an indoor graduation ceremony to 25% of maximum occupancy or 250 people, whichever is smaller;
  • Requiring a school that plans an indoor graduation ceremony to obtain a letter of approval for their plan showing how it would comply with health protocols 
  • Keeping a record of everyone attending the graduation for 30 days for contact-tracing purposes
  • Identifying a point of contact for an attendee to notify if they test positive for COVID-19 within two weeks after the event
  • Prohibiting more than 10 people on stage at a time
  • Limiting the ceremony to more than two hours
  • Spacing audience members from different households at least six feet apart at all times
  • Putting up signage explaining the infectious control requirements at the venue
  • Prohibiting any group and/or staged photography
  • Banning congregating or gathering in common areas both inside and outside of the venue before or after the ceremony
  • Keeping masked speakers at least 12 feet from the audience and unmasked speakers at least 18 feet from the audience

The county council will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposed amendments on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:30 a.m. The deadline to sign up for the public hearing is Monday, April 19 at 5 p.m. 

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