Richmond County students protest as COVID-19 spike cancels graduations

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Richmond County school has decided to cancel their graduation ceremonies due to the rise in COVID cases. Instead, the county says, they’ll hold drive-thru ceremonies for each high school.

The decision is not sitting well with some seniors.

Students protested the board’s decision, saying even though cases have been increasing, they feel they can still have a safe ceremony following CDC guidelines just like Columbia and Aiken counties have done.

“We all showed up here with a mask on,” Hephzibah senior Mya Williams said. “We completely understand the seriousness of the situation. But at the same time, we deserve more than a drive-thru.”

The decision had Williams and fellow Hephzibah High School senior Jenna Morris in tears.

“I’m the first person in my family to graduate high school,” Morris said. “And I had people coming in from Florida and New York just to come see me graduate.”

They were supposed to walk the stage just next week -- caps and gowns already purchased, invitations already sent.

“I have a lot of family that was looking forward to this happening,” Williams said. “Although we were only able to invite four people at a time, a lot went down the drain.”

Columbia and Aiken Counties had their graduations back in May and June. They held outdoor ceremonies, limited guests, and socially distanced.

“We want them to know that we’re fighting,” Morris said. “This should have been taken care of two months ago instead of putting it off and putting it off.”

And fight they did, gathering outside the Board of Education building to protest the board’s decision.

“Every board member has graduated high school, and they had a celebration,” Morris said. “They can’t really tell us they know how we feel.”

Each high school’s individual drive-thru ceremony will take place next week.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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