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CT State Informs School Districts That In-Person Graduation Ceremonies Can Be Held Starting July 6 Following Certain Guidelines; BPS Superintendent Dr. Carver Fails to Properly Announce Change

Report by Paula Antolini, June 4, 2020, 10:54AM EDT

Bethel High School Principal Christopher Troetti (left) and
Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, at Bethel High School 2017 Graduation ceremony on June 22, 2017.
(File photo ©2017 Bethel Advocate / Paula Antolini.)

We contacted Dr. Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Schools, asking why an official announcement was not made to residents regarding Bethel High School’s Plans to allow a “drive-in” graduation for the Graduating Class of 2020, as reported in one local media story yesterday. The report seems to refer to a letter written by Principal Christopher Troetti, which is not posted on the school website, Facebook page, twitter, personal pages or even the town website (of course it could appear now, suddenly back dated), not to mention sent to all local media.

Carver’s reply was “Chris can send you the letter,” and claims that the other news media “reached out” to them (coincidentally, just when this mysterious letter was released?). “You are also welcome to reach out to us. This was not issued as a press release.  They were interested in the story,” Carver said.

We wrote back asking if she (or her secretary?) could send us a copy of the letter. Her reply was, “I never spoke to the [media name]. Chris did.”  (Then how did she know they “reached out”?) “He provided them with the letter.  I don’t have it’s available to me at the moment  That’s it. Again, Chris can send it.” 

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OK got it.

We also wrote to Carver, “One more point … you, as the Superintendent of BPS, did not feel it was necessary to issue an official press release or statement to residents about a graduation that will NOW take place in realtime (in cars) in light of the ban of the BHS 2020 graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 executive orders from Gov. Lamont?

No response.

Editor note: Please know this is about proper information getting to residents in a timely and professional manner, in this case, about a very important milestone event of the BHS 2020 graduation that had been cancelled. The COVID-19 situation regarding the BHS 2020 Graduation ceremony should be important enough for the BPS Superintendent Carver to take it upon herself to alert all residents about this major announcement and make sure it is posted everywhere.

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Here is an announcement about in-person graduation requirements issued by Governor Lamont on June 3,2020:

Governor Lamont today announced that after consulting with Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona and state public health officials, he has determined that school districts will be permitted to hold in-person graduation ceremonies beginning July 6, 2020, following certain guidelines, including a requirement that they be held outdoors, limited to a maximum of 150 people in attendance (including graduates), and proper social distancing protocols must be followed.

The present requirements related to drive-in ceremonies will continue to apply if schools decide not to hold in-person ceremonies. These requirements include compliance with all public health related rules, orders, the instructions in standing Connecticut State Department of Education and Department of Public Health guidance, and that where:

  1. Cars are parked immediately next to each other, all car windows must stay closed
  2. Cars are parked at least six feet from each other, car windows may be open. All individuals in the car must wear masks.

The governor intends on issuing an executive order codifying this guidance within the next couple of days. The Connecticut State Department of Education will also soon provide school districts with additional guidance related to in-person ceremonies. To ensure they are making determinations consistent with public health and safety outcomes, school districts are asked to contemplate a local approach that best suits their respective communities and coordinate all activities with municipal officials, local law enforcement, first responders, and local health officials.

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