Montgomery Co. health officials lay out proposed regulations for graduation

Montgomery County, Maryland’s health officials and the County Council are working on coming up with guidance on graduation ceremonies, said Dr. Earl Stoddard, the director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

On Tuesday, the council will hold a hearing and a vote on a new set of regulations for ceremonies.

According to the proposed regulation on the council’s website, graduation ceremonies would be limited to 50% of an outdoor venue’s maximum capacity, and indoor ceremonies would be limited to 25% capacity or 250 — whichever number is smaller.

Records of everyone attending graduations would have to be kept for 30 days to enable contact tracing. Diplomas would be distributed without any handshakes or physical contact.

During a question-and-answer session on reopening organized by the Montgomery County Executive’s Office, Stoddard repeated an earlier assertion that, outside of a designated cohort of students in classrooms, the 3-foot social distancing protocol would not apply.

“The guidelines pretty explicitly say it does not apply to auditoriums, hallways, buses, cafeterias,” he said.


Stoddard and Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles fielded questions about the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, and how the county has been using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Stoddard said that the allocation of vaccines for the mass vaccination site in Germantown had been cut to 4,700 doses, “which is about 20% less than we got this week.”

It’s not clear how that will affect the operations at the site.

Also present for the session was Silvia Klinch, with the Office of the County Attorney, who was asked whether employers can require workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Employers do have a right to ask their employees if they have been vaccinated,” Klinch said.

She said employers could ask for proof of vaccination, but would have to keep any protected health information secure.

“If a person is unable to be vaccinated for whatever reason,” Klinch said, “the employer needs to be willing to make an accommodation for that individual.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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