Newman isn’t giving up on graduations
By Bobby Bryant
The coronavirus crisis has shut down all of Darlington County’s public schools, but county Education Superintendent Tim Newman isn’t giving up on having some kind of ceremonies for graduating seniors.
“My intent is to honor our seniors and have a graduation,” Newman said April 17 in a Facebook video address to parents and students. “Whether that be the first week of June or the last week of June or the first week of July, whenever we’re allowed to do that, my intent is to honor our seniors with a graduation.”
“What might that look like?” Newman asked, referring to directives on “social distancing” that the school district would have to observe.
“We’re all used to being in one large facility, packed in together with many family members,” Newman said. “It may look a lot different. For example, we may be outside. And we may only have a few people that are associated with families of senior graduates. And they may be spaced apart from each other. That may be the way we have to conduct graduation.”
“We may have a virtual graduation,” Newman added, with families watching by computer as seniors “walk across the stage and receive their diploma.”
District officials are considering “several” scenarios for graduation, Newman said, but the bottom line is that “we are going to come up with a plan for that.”
Proms have not been canceled, but have been postponed, Newman said.
Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered that all S.C. public schools remain closed through April 30. Newman said any decisions about whether students can return in May will be up to the governor.
“We may not come back to school the rest of this (academic) year,” Newman said. “ … Another option may be that we come back for at least a couple of weeks and get a chance to kind of close up everything. … We are preparing for all of those possibilities.”
Newman said the switch to computer classes and the shutdown of the county’s public schools has been difficult. But he said it is helping the state get the virus under control.
“We’re all at a point of, ‘OK, we’ve done this for a while,’ and we see that it’s making a difference because we have less people sick and we have less people that are dying from this particular virus. But at the same time, we’re all a little stir-crazy.
“When you look outside and you see the sun, and the temperatures are warming up, it’s hard to think about not being at a baseball game or at a park or at a restaurant or at a cookout. …. The reason we’re doing all this is to help save lives.”
Newman thanked students, parents and teachers “for your patience and your perseverance on how you’re handling a very difficult time. We’ve never experienced anything like this in our lifetime.”