COLORADO SPRINGS — A variance request from El Paso County to the state has been approved Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health.
Earlier this month, El Paso County commissioners voted unanimously on the request to allow in-person graduation ceremonies. School districts have been working with El Paso County Health to create guidelines for in-person ceremonies.
“We are grateful for the efforts of our local school partners, hospitals, County Commissioners, and others to help create a well thought out plan,” Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health, said in a release. “We are thrilled our seniors will have the opportunity to celebrate this remarkable milestone in their lives.”
El Paso County Health proposed that the ceremonies would be outdoors and only students and minimal staff would be allowed at events. No parents, guests, or observers would be allowed on site and everyone at the ceremony would have to wear masks as well as meet social distancing standards.
"The data and information included in your request demonstrates that El Paso has lower rates of COVID-19 cases than many other front range communities, and is currently experiencing a sustained decline," the state health department wrote to El Paso County Public Health, approving the variance.
In addition to that, the state health department has suggested that students should be "encouraged to avoid vulnerable persons" in the two weeks following the ceremony and that students should avoid participating if they have a vulnerable family member.
"This approval is in effect until the final expiration of PHO 20-28, which currently is set to expire on May 26, 2020 but may be extended," the state health department stated.
The state health department said the first few ceremonies should be observed by El Paso County Health to make sure these requirements are being followed.
The approval follows El Paso County commissioners sending another variance to the state that would allow limited in-person dining at restaurants, laying out requirements restaurants will have to follow if they would like to reopen their dining areas.