Can a single facility host high school graduations and be a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the same time?
In Charles County, Maryland, they’re about to find out.
The county is planning to hold all its high school graduations, between May 28 and June 3, at Regency Furniture Stadium, in Waldorf. The stadium is home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and a state-run mass vaccination site.
At a recent meeting, school officials shared the results of a survey that found 40% of parents and 50% of students say they want a traditional graduation ceremony. And as long as the 50% capacity limit on outdoor gatherings isn’t lowered — currently that rule brings the stadium’s capacity to 2,100 — and the weather cooperates, that’s what the Class of 2021 will get.
School officials outlined the details in a presentation:
Graduates of each high school will assemble in the gym at St. Charles High School an hour and a half before their scheduled graduation time. Buses will take graduates to the stadium to avoid lines at the vaccination clinic.
The gates will be opened for spectators an hour ahead of graduation. Each senior will get three tickets for guests, and groups will sit in socially isolated blocks. There will be a livestream for those who can’t attend.
No physical diplomas will be handed out at the ceremony; they’ll be given out shortly afterward.
The school system will determine at 6 a.m. each graduation day whether the weather is cooperating. If any school is rained out, students will get a scheduled time to show up at their schools on June 9 in groups of 50 for a series of ceremonies.
The vaccinations will continue at the stadium while the graduations are held.
School Board member David Hancock said, “If it doesn’t rain, it’s actually going to be a pretty cool experience.”
WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.