Yes, Seniors Can Have Graduation Ceremonies In Texas…With Rules
For months seniors and their families have wondered how will Texas schools handle graduation ceremonies? Invitations, caps and gowns and party supplies were ordered months ago, but COVID-19 arrived and plans were put on hold.
At today’s press conference, TEA Commissioner Morath provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:
- 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, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony.
An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1.
Hybrid ceremonies have the following requirements:
School employees, students and parents must comply with the guidance on Minimum
Standard Health Protocols on Visits to Schools During Campus Closures except as authorized by this guidance.
- Schools using non-school facilities to perform graduation or end-of-year promotion
ceremonies must ensure compliance as if the non-school facility were a school and as
authorized by this guidance.
- Prior to participating, individuals must be screened (via questioning) by school system
employees for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID19:
o Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
o Repeated shaking with chills
o Muscle pain
o Sore throat
o Loss of taste or smell
o Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees
o Known close contact with a person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 if exposure
to the active confirmed case occurred within the last 14 days
- Those found with any of these signs or symptoms must be excluded from the activity.
- The total number of individuals within close proximity during video filming/photos must not exceed five.
- No rehearsals will be permitted.
- Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations must be available at entrances to the building where filming occurs.
- Consistent with the actions taken by many institutions across the state, consider having all employees, students, or other visitors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) while inside any facilities, or if they will come within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of that person’s household, except when photos are taken. If available, they should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
- Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves and mask are worn at all times.
- Care should be taken and effort must be made to mitigate virus exposure when participants come into contact with documents and other objects such as diplomas and awards.
- Bathrooms, doorknobs, and other commonly touched surfaces must be frequently cleaned and sanitized.
- A robust communication plan must be in place to address steps to be taken before, during, and after the ceremony to ensure that participants are aware of safety protocols at the ceremony and explicit instructions to graduates not to congregate outside of school sponsored ceremonies or events.
- If students’ family members are to be allowed to observe or participate in a hybrid ceremony, school officials should communicate with students’ families prior to the ceremony to determine how many family members will be attending so they can plan appropriately to implement social distancing measures, logistics, and other safety measures
See the complete list of guidance and requirements for all 2020 graduation ceremonies in Texas as outlined by TEA