Commissioners to hear in-person graduation proposal

Posted at 9:21 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 00:16:51-04

EL PASO COUNTY — County leaders are hoping to make some sort of in-person high school graduations possible this year- with several changes to ensure safety with COVID-19.

On Tuesday, El Paso County Public Health leaders will make a presentation to county commissioners. The presentation will include guidelines for school districts to follow in order for in-person graduations to be considered. The plans will still need approval from the state in order to happen.

Among the guidelines districts are being told to follow include outdoor only events, students wearing masks, and no family or friends will be able to watch the ceremony in person. The events will be limited to a few staff members and graduates.

Commissioners will vote on a resolution Tuesday to send to the state for approval. Board of County Commissioners Chair Mark Waller says it's one of a few proposals they will send to the state.

"This is the first opportunity we've had to submit one of these variances and we've been saying all along we can handle El Paso County better than the state can" Waller said, "I think we have every bit of faith in our public health department."

Academy District 20, the largest district in El Paso County is already drafting its proposal to fit along with public health guidelines. The ceremonies, if approved, would be scheduled end of June.

"We're trying to keep it as normal as possible, but as safe as possible," Allison Cortez, Dir. of Communications for Academy District 20 said.

If the plan gets approved, District 20 plans to hold graduation ceremonies for its high schools on separate days- all being held at the district's stadium.

"We saw what the Air Force Academy did and thought well gosh if they can do that, I wonder if there's a way that high schools could pull that off," Cortez said. District Superintendents throughout the state were all on a call with the Governor a few weeks ago when the point was brought up. District 20 says in the same call, they learned traditional graduations likely wouldn't be approved by the state until the Fall at the earliest.

The district says they understand students will have health reasons or other reasons they may not want to attend a ceremony. The district plans to honor those students in other ways at the ceremony if that's the case.