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In a meeting that lasted less than an hour Monday night, members of the Williamson County Board of Education voted unanimously to allow for high school graduations to occur in late July should requirements from the COVID-19 pandemic be eased by then.

Technically, the resolution was written to amend the graduation window from May 22-24 to May 22-July 31. Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden said that, with the results from a survey sent to parents and students and Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement Monday afternoon that his stay-at-home order would expire April 30, he wanted to add the resolution to Monday night’s agenda to make the change official through the board members’ vote to approve.

The vote was 11-0, as District 8 representative Candy Emerson was absent.

To kick off the April meeting that was held through Zoom for board members and was live-streamed for public viewing, Golden focused on the results of the survey that was sent Friday morning to families of seniors from the district’s 10 high schools.

There were more than 5,000 responses by Monday evening, with two-thirds of those from parents and a third from students. Some 85% of respondents favored a physical graduation possibly in late July rather than a virtual ceremony on the original date in late May.

“The survey results were pretty impressive based on what our families thought,” Golden said.

“We hope and believe that we will be able to have some version of a physical graduation depending on what our health professionals tell us. I’m encouraged based on that little bit of information we have about Gov. Lee’s plan to start what I think is a staged reboot of the Tennessee economy. 

“We’re planning on late July so we can stretch this out to give every opportunity for the health professionals who are serving us to make decisions related to public gatherings. And if public gathering restrictions continue, then we’re going to talk about how we can honor those social distancing requirements and still have that physical graduation, because it’s obviously, obviously very important to our families.

“That’s just not something you can forget. I think we can all sit here and recall something about our high school graduation and tell stories. It’s something extremely important to both our parents and our students.”

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