Plans for graduation ceremonies for Onslow County’s public schools are beginning to take shape.


Onslow County Board of Education Chairwoman Pam Thomas said plans are already underway to provide virtual presentations recognizing each senior on their scheduled graduation dates, with the goal of an on-campus presentation of diplomas to follow at a later date.


"The Board of Education recognizes that a traditional graduation is a rite of passage for students," Thomas said. "We understand how important it is to validate their hard work and we’re trying to do that."


No formal vote was taken, but there was a discussion of graduation plans during an update on the COVID-19 response during the school board’s Tuesday night meeting.


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Schools statewide are closed and students are finishing out the school year with remote learning as part of the governor’s executive order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


Due to the restrictions in place at the moment, large gatherings such as the traditional graduation ceremonies are not possible.


The COVID-19 response is continually evolving, but with graduation dates approaching Thomas said the schools had to begin planning for what can be done under the current situation.


Details are still being worked out but the virtual presentations will involve each high school recognizing each senior in a video format on their respective graduation day.


Thomas said they also hope to do some sort of on-campus event to present diplomas as restrictions are lessened, but at this point that will likely have to be at a later date.


"We’ll definitely do some kind of virtual graduation. We have to go ahead and plan for that, but that’s not the only thing being planned. After that we want to do some type of on-campus awarding of diplomas but it would be different than a traditional graduation," Thomas said.


Thomas said depending on what restrictions are in place, an on-campus event may involve presentations in small groups or a drive-up type of situation.


While school leaders hope to do as much as possible to recognize the seniors for graduation, Thomas said they also have to abide by the state order and adhere to safety measures.


"We don’t want to give anybody false hope; we have to adhere to the governor’s order," Thomas said.


Thomas said the situation is also constantly evolving and changes may happen as the pandemic response changes.


Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.