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UCHS graduation set for July 25; director asks families to complete back-to-school survey

By Richard Rourk

The members of Unicoi County High School’s class of 2020 will be taking their final walk across the stage in the school’s gymnasium later this month.

Director of Schools John English confirmed last week that the UCHS graduation will take place in two separate ceremonies that will both be held on Saturday, July 25.

“We will have two ceremonies in which our students can sign up for whichever time slot works best for them and at this time we will have eight tickets per student, per ceremony for family and friends,” English told The Erwin Record. “We have a form on our website and social media pages that give students the option of which time slot they want. The fewer graduates that attend means that the number of friends and family could grow, but we are at least covered for eight people per graduate. We will be streaming the graduation, for those unable to attend. We really want every student, even if they are not coming, to please fill out the form so we will know how many tickets to allow. We really need these forms filled out as soon as possible, hopefully by July 17.”

According to English, UCHS and the Unicoi County Board of Education are taking all the necessary measures to keep the students, staff and families safe from COVID-19 during the ceremonies.

“We are doing everything to disinfect the gym and to keep everyone, graduates, families and staff, at a safe distance,” English said. “We will also have hand sanitizer available and everyone should be prepared to have their temperature checked. We are requiring temperature checks upon entry. We are holding weekly and sometimes bi-weekly meetings with the Unicoi County Health Department to determine our safety measures.

“Right now, we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear masks; that could change if the health department or government feels that they should be mandatory. We understand that some students have medical issues that prohibit them from wearing a mask so we are looking at every angle of this. Every decision we make is in consultation with the health department; we really appreciate their guidance.”

In addition to UCHS, Unicoi County Schools is hoping to hear feedback from the students and families for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

“We had sent out a survey to families that give options for an on-site school year or a virtual classroom for the upcoming school year and we have heard back from one-third of the students and their families,” English said. “We hope to have everyone decide if their child will be interested in a virtual or brick-and-mortar classroom and to decide soon. We have to make adjustments according to the responses for staffing for both options. We are looking for firm commitments. We have these forms available on Facebook and unicoicountyschools.com and they are very quick to fill out.”

English confirmed that any changes to the upcoming schedule of events with Unicoi County Schools is subject to change due to COVID-19.

“We are moving ahead as planned;of course that could all change,” English said. “COVID-19 continues to cause such a rapid change to day-to-day life and continues to be fluid in its effects on how we now conduct business. We don’t want to create confusion. We are waiting for the most current guidance and try to wait until the closest date to plan for these upcoming events. Everyone should always check our social media and website for any changes.”

UCHS 2020 graduation ceremonies will take place in the UCHS gym at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. Streaming services will be on Facebook and at unicoicountyschools.com.

To stay up to date with Unicoi County Schools and any possible changes, please follow Unicoi County Schools News and Announcements on Facebook and check out unicoicountyschools.com.