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Union County to hold in-person graduation, violating governor's order

The Union County Schools Board of Education voted Thursday to hold high school graduation ceremonies using the outdoor stadiums at the schools.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — The Union County Schools Board of Education voted Thursday to hold an in-person high school graduation, which would violate North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's current coronavirus restrictions.

The board voted 5-4 to approve a plan to host a graduation involving all seniors and limited family members at each of the school's outdoor stadiums.

As part of the ceremony, safety and social distancing guidelines would apply - but the gathering would exceed the governor's executive order limiting groups to 25 people. It is not yet known how long Cooper's Phase 2 coronavirus restrictions would remain in place before the state transitioned to Phase 3 guidelines.

Dates have not been finalized. The Board of Education will meet again Tuesday to discuss specifics.

Prior to Thursday's meeting, students and their parents organized a neighborhood ride-by outside of Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan’s home. 

The rolling protest was filled with beeping horns and signs demanding graduating students walk.

“You just want the best for your kid it’s not about being entitled to anything it’s just about wanting something good for them,” said parent April Good. 

Not everyone agreed with the proposal.

“I would love to have our students graduate at their home school-- I would love nothing more. However, I am not okay violating the law whether I like it or not and I don’t like it,” said board member Christina Helms.

If Thursday's proposal had failed, alternative proposals had included holding the graduations just to the south, where South Carolina is permitting large graduations. Other alternatives included hosting smaller groups of 25 graduates at a time either in the stadium or school auditorium.

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