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Special to The News-Courier
AUSTIN—While school buildings remain closed to normal in-classroom instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, schools across Texas are seeking to provide graduation ceremonies so they can properly celebrate the Class of 2020.
The Texas Education Association announced comprehensive graduation ceremony guidance for state school systems as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Strike Force to Open Texas, providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors:
- Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies;
- Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups;
- Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them;
- Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows: Between May 15 and May 31, they may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas” (April 27, 2020) that remains in effect seven days prior to the ceremony; on or after June 1, they may take place in any Texas county.
Ensuring public health and safety remains the focus for all involved. TEA has shared detailed guidance on how to safely conduct these ceremonies, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of its community.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath remarked, “Graduation ceremonies mark a major milestone for students and their families. All educators are committed first and foremost to ensuring the health and safety of our students, families, and staff. By taking the necessary precautions developed by medical experts, we can ensure we appropriately honor our Class of 2020 graduates while keeping everyone safe.”