News Release: Fort Smith Public Schools Releases Graduation Update


For Immediate Release:
June 17, 2020

Contact: Christina Williams, Coordinator of Public Information

                Fort Smith Public Schools Releases Graduation Update
Fort Smith, AR, June 17, 2020 – Fort Smith Public Schools is committed to providing a
memorable graduation experience for the Northside and Southside Classes of 2020 and their
families. We continue to work toward hosting graduation on July 6 (Northside) and July 7

It is important that graduation plans closely approximate the look and feel of past graduation
ceremonies and celebrate students’ accomplishments while meeting state requirements and
otherwise promoting student safety. Safety and logistical concerns require consideration of
different dates, times, locations, and procedures. Some of these factors are listed below:

        ● Restrictions require that graduates and their families wear appropriate PPE and
maintain recommended physical distancing between family groups.
        ● In the summer, the synthetic turf on the football fields can increase the surface
temperature from 40-70 degrees higher than the temperature of the surrounding air.
Seating students on turf fields in caps, gowns, and state-required masks in the July
heat would create safety risks for our graduates.
        ● Current restrictions for large outdoor venues limit capacity of facilities to 66%. Due to
construction at both high schools, parking is highly limited. Shuttles that would be
necessary because of the limited parking at the school sites would have limited
capacity and have to be thoroughly cleaned after each group of people are
transported from a parking location to the respective stadium.

The option to modify graduation ceremonies and move them to an indoor venue, like the Fort
Smith Convention Center, continues to be explored by the District administration in
conversation with school principals, health officials, and the Division of Elementary and
Secondary Education. Students and families have shared input through a March 25 survey on
graduation as well as graduation surveys sent to each class on Monday, June 15. When asked,
77% of Southside respondents and 80% of Northside respondents said they will participate in
graduation ceremonies regardless of time, location and order of ceremony.
We look forward to sharing more detailed information as the planning process continues. Until
then, we ask for your patience and support.

About Fort Smith Public Schools
From unmanned aerial systems programming to unforgettable kindergarten trips to the farm,
Fort Smith Public Schools provides incredible opportunities and strong instruction for each of
the almost 15,000 students in its 19 neighborhood elementary schools, four junior high schools,
two senior high schools, one alternative learning center and one adult education center. With
nationally recognized schools, students, educators and organizations, Fort Smith Public Schools
are always the best choice. For information, visit