Area school districts are formulating plans after the Texas Education Agency last week gave school districts across the state some guidance when it comes to in-person high school graduations.
Outdoor graduations can take place in any county on or after May 29 with the following guidelines to adhere to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order:
• Identification of the largest outdoor venue in the area to allow for maximum spacing among participants
• Seating of graduates of sufficient distance from one another on the football field with limited guests in the bleachers or not guests at all
• Availability of a livestream or televised broadcast of ceremony to limit participant attendance and for those unable to attend.
• Providing non-medical grade face masks printed with the school name or logo to graduates
• Assigning seating and having graduates escort their families to the assigned location
• Spacing ceremonies apart by several hours to allow time for cleaning and sanitizing
• Predesignating/assigning parking so that arrivals and departures are carefully coordinated
• Staggering of release of students and guests to limit congregating after the ceremony.
Bay City ISD, the largest school district in Matagorda County, is still trying for formulate its plan for live graduation. With a graduating class of over 200, the district still looking at its options when it comes to in-person graduation.
“We do not have an approved plan at this time yet,” Bay City High School principal Estela Reyes said. “We have a workshop with the board this Thursday to present our plan and ask for feedback. We will continue to communicate with all stakeholders to make sure our students have a deserved graduation while following the recommendations from TEA and the governor.”
With a graduating of 71 students, Tidehaven High School has planned its graduation for 7 p.m. Friday, June 5, at its football stadium. The smaller class size has made it easier to plan an in-person event.
“All seniors and guests will be screened via survey to determine if anyone shows symptoms of the COVID-19 virus 14 days prior to the event,” Tidehaven ISD Superintendent Andrew Seigrist said.
Guidelines set forth by Tidehaven ISD for its in-person graduation include:
1. The stadium seating will be limited to 25 percent capacity, subject to change at the governor’s orders.
2. Seniors will be given a specific number of reserve tickets for their guests to use. Unless you have a ticket reserved by name from one of the seniors, the general public will not be allowed to enter the stadium.
3. Reserved ticket holders who all reside in the same house will be seated together without social distancing. All other ticket holders will observe social distance.
4. Tidehaven will observe social distancing guidelines between family groups.
5. Guests will be required to use hand sanitizer (provided at the gates by Tidehaven personnel) before entering the stadium.
6. Family groups and guests will be given assigned seating to ensure social distancing is followed.
7. Families and guests will not be allowed to assemble on the football field after the ceremony.
Seigrist said these plans set forth by the district are subject to change.
Van Vleck High School is still planning its in-person graduation at 7:30 p.m. June 18 at Burl McKinney Stadium in Van Vleck.
Van Vleck High School principal Chris Townsend said there is no plans currently to move up the date of the live graduation.
“Social distance protocol will be employed in all areas of the event. In order to comply with mandated capacity limits, each senior will receive a predetermined number of tickets for stadium seating. Only ticket holders will be admitted to the ceremony,” Towsend said. “We will be providing masks for graduates and school personnel.”
Towsend said the district is planning to stream the graduation ceremony for those who are not able to attend. Parking details for the event are still be finalized, he said, and how to stagger the entrance of students and guests is still be considered.
Palacios High School is planning live graduation at 8 p.m. Friday, June 5 at Shark Stadium in Palacios.
“We are still working out the details and guidelines with elected officials – hopefully those will be finalized this week,” Palacios ISD Superintendent Missy Glenn said. “Each graduate will be allowed five spectators, in order to limit capacity and adhere to social distancing guidelines.”