CMS not changing capacity limits for graduation ceremonies

CHARLOTTE — In just weeks, most graduating Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools seniors will walk across the stage but as it stands now, they’re limited to four guests.

Families told Channel 9 they were hopeful that would change but on Thursday, CMS said the capacity restrictions that are in place will not be altered.

Families told Channel 9′s Education reporter Elsa Gillis that they’re happy graduating CMS students will get to do it in-person, but they wished more loved ones would be able to witness the milestone.

“We have a family of 6 so just say we have 4 tickets, still not enough, and of course we all have extended family and we’ve waited all our life to experience this moment,” parent Shatavia Winston said.

Winston has a senior at Phillip O. Berry and she said having her daughter’s grandparents there in addition to her siblings would mean a lot.

“My parents raised her because I was a teen parent so my parents would love to be there,” she said.

Hopewell High School parent Tamika Julian said she would love her aging family members to be there for her daughter.

“My daughter has multiple grandparents and especially with grandparents and older uncles and aunts these milestones don’t come in the future with so many, when they’re getting up there in age so it would mean a lot to see her do this milestone in person rather than on the screen,” Julian said.

Julian would like to see capacity increased safely in line with the governor’s changes.

“There’s been so much loss for the last year or two, for 2021 rather, it’s end of an era for them, let’s be as supportive, let their families support them in person, but let’s be safe, we have to be safe, that’s most important,” she said.

Julian said even if not 100%, a little more would be great and if masks make that possible then so be it.

As soon as the governor announced changes on Friday, Gillis asked CMS how it would impact school events, including graduation. On May 20, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools released the following information regarding face coverings and capacity restrictions:

With Gov. Roy Cooper’s May 14 changes to the face coverings order and venue capacity restrictions, we want to clarify what this means for CMS.

  • Gov. Cooper’s update on face coverings continues to require all adults and students to wear face coverings indoors in school facilities.
  • Face coverings are required indoors for ALL staff, students and guests in CMS facilities, including schools, central office and administration buildings, and are required on CMS transportation at all times, unless an exception applies.
  • Face coverings are no longer required outdoors, but they may be worn if individuals are more comfortable doing so.
  • Face coverings are required for students and staff during CMS graduation ceremonies at off-site venues, including Bojangles’ Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium and the Charlotte Convention Center. Families and guests attending graduation will be expected to follow the venue’s safety protocols and policies. CMS strongly encourages families and guests to wear face coverings.
  • CMS is not changing capacity restrictions for graduation ceremonies (limit of 4 guests) and end-of-year activities such as arts performances (limit of 1-2 guests).
  • Principals and school staff are focused on End-of-Year testing and finishing the school year strong. There is insufficient time for making attendance and event capacity adjustments as we complete this important work.
  • Graduation ceremonies begin in less than one week. Graduation venues have hired staff for such roles as security and set up/take down and have communicated that there is not sufficient time to make changes to staffing and other logistical plans.

In response to last week’s changes, Iredell-Statesville Schools lifted capacity limits for high school graduations. They said each school will communicate with families their plans.

(WATCH: As school year winds down, here’s what CMS families can expect next)