CHESHIRE — School officials announced Friday that Sunday’s rescheduled graduation ceremonies will have to be celebrated as drive-through events, after it was revealed that community members had tested positive for COVID-19 — and those positive tests would impact the ceremonies.
School Superintendent Jeffrey Solan made the announcement in a letter to families early Friday afternoon.
“It is with deep regret that I inform you that we once again must change our graduation ceremony,” Solan wrote.
Officials determined after consulting with the Chesprocott Health District that conducting a drive-through graduation is “safest for our community.”
The event will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday at the high school. According to a graduation schedule families will arrive at Bartlem Park, across the street, at staggered times, to drive to the high school to receive their diplomas. Officials are allowing one vehicle per graduate. The first group of students has been instructed to arrive at 4:45 p.m.
Students’ last names should be clearly marked on both the driver and passenger sides of their respective vehicles.
After driving to Cheshire High School from Bartlem Park, graduates will exit the vehicles, retrieve their diplomas from a table, have a picture taken and then return to their vehicles. The vehicles would then exit the high school via Elmwood Drive.
Planned speeches will be recorded and sent to families after the event, along with photos, officials said.
Officials previously had planned to hold a series of small in-person graduations with social distancing on Sunday, before the news of the positive tests arrived.
Solan explained the Chesprocott Health District is working closely with the individuals who tested positive to conduct contact tracing “and they will notify you if they have reason to believe that you may have come into contact with a positive testing person.”
“This situation underscores how important it is to adhere to public health guidance, particularly with the number of people who are traveling out of state over the summer,” Solan wrote. “If you do elect to travel to an area identified with a travel advisory, your travel party is required to quarantine for 14 days upon return. Taking these precautions will best ensure the safety of our community and accelerate our return to normal.”
Solan, in his letter, acknowledged the community's frustration.
“To say that this graduation has been a rollercoaster for our students, families, and staff may be one of the all time understatements. While the situation has not played out the way that anyone envisioned it, I truly appreciate the flexibility and resilience shown by everyone,” he wrote. “...This has been a challenging time for our community and I hope that Sunday afternoon is a ray of light for families to be able to step back from the chaos and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates.”