GCS to hold 2020 in-person graduations at Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Greenville County Schools will host in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena (BSWA) May 27-June 4, excluding Sunday, May 31.  In order to protect the health of all attendees and observe guidance provided by the CDC and the State Department of Education, all graduates will be allowed a maximum of two guests.

“We are extremely pleased to expand our partnership with Bon Secours in order to provide our 2020 graduates with the traditional graduation ceremony they have earned and so richly deserve,” said Superintendent Burke Royster.  “I am grateful for the input we received from this year’s seniors and their parents, and for the ongoing dialogue with Interhigh Council that enabled us to identify and respond to the graduates’ most pressing priorities. Finding a way to celebrate their accomplishments in-person and in the company of their most honored guests, despite the necessary restrictions that are in place as the result of this pandemic, has been a focus of our work over the past few weeks.”

All attendees will be subject to social distancing requirements, in keeping with Governor McMaster’s directives that allow schools districts to hold events with more than 50 people for the purpose of graduation exercises, so long as social distancing is maintained. Intensive cleaning, personal protective equipment, temperature screenings, and other safeguards will be utilized to minimize to the extent possible the opportunities for COVID-19’s spread.

GCS was originally scheduled to host graduations June 1-3, utilizing both Timmons Arena and Bon Secours Wellness Arena. With the closure of Furman University’s campus due to COVID-19, the district went in search of a venue that could accommodate all 14 high school graduations, provide infrastructure in support of livestreaming, protect against inclement weather, and provide the space necessary to allow each graduate two guests under the prescribed social distancing measures.  “The Well” was the obvious choice. “Given the size of Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Greenville County School District is able to maintain social distancing guidelines and the tradition of graduating at The Well will continue with the Class of 2020,” said BSWA General Manager, Beth Paul.

To ensure the health and safety of the graduates, school personnel, and guests, the following measures are in effect for this year’s graduations:

  • Precautions will be taken to observe social distancing, personal protective equipment will be worn, and the venue will be disinfected and sanitized before/after each ceremony.
  • GCS will provide gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer for all graduates and school personnel that are assisting with graduation. Students will be required to wear protective equipment until they are seated.
  • Each ceremony will be live-streamed and recorded for the convenience of those who cannot be in attendance.
  • Each guest will have an assigned seat. Guest seats for each graduate will be paired together an appropriate distance from other occupied seats.
  • Seating priority will be based on random/lottery selection.
  • To maximize floor space and minimize ceremony time and potential exposure, bands and choruses will not perform.
  • All participants and guests must wear masks and undergo a temperature screening in order to participate.  Those with a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed inside of BSWA (this includes graduates, staff, and guests).  
  • There will be no processional, but students will march out in recess.
  • All participants and guests must enter through appropriate portals and remain in assigned seats unless using the restroom facilities.
  • Programs will be delivered electronically via backpack and student email, and will be available on school websites prior to graduation day. Graduates are the only individuals who will receive a printed program at the arena.
  • Graduates and families will not be allowed to congregate within BSWA or on the property outside.  Individuals without tickets will not be allowed to enter the Arena property prior to graduation or loiter outside the Arena to greet graduates after the ceremony.

Graduation ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to allow ample time for school district personnel to clean and disinfect between events. The order in which schools graduate was determined based on a number of factors, including school size and minimizing potential conflicts with the College Board’s AP makeup/retake exams. 

Wednesday, May 27
Fine Arts Center at 9:00 AM

Thursday, May 28
9:00 AM (Southside High School)
2:00 PM (Greenville Early College at Carolina HIgh)
5:00 PM (Greenville High School)

Friday, May 29
9:00 AM (Wade Hampton High School)
5:00 PM (JL Mann High School)

Saturday, May 30
9:00 AM (Riverside High School)
5:00 PM (Mauldin High School)

Monday, June, 1
9:00 AM (Blue Ridge High School)
5:00 PM (Hillcrest High School)

Tuesday, June 2
9:00 AM (Eastside High School)
5:00 PM (Greer High School)

Wednesday, June 3
9:00 AM (Woodmont High School)
5:00 PM (Berea High School)

Thursday, June 4
9:00 AM (Travelers Rest High School)
5:00 PM (Carolina High School)

Monday, June 8
5:00 PM (Lifelong Learning/Satellite Diploma Program at Wade Hampton High School)

Graduation ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to allow ample time for school district personnel to clean and disinfect between events. The order in which schools graduate was determined based on a number of factors, including school size and minimizing potential conflicts with the College Board’s AP makeup/retake exams.  This schedule was just finalized, so families can expect to receive information specific to their child’s graduation next week, as schools determine processes for ticket lotteries and other details.