DHS recommends postponement of all spring and summer ceremonies
For the City Times
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is recommending that schools cancel or postpone all in-person ceremonies for spring and summer graduations.
“Public gatherings such as traditional graduation ceremonies are not advised until the state has met benchmarks articulated in the state’s Badger Bounce Back plan and the state determines that it is safe to do so,” a department release said.
Currently, DHS recommends that individuals avoid all public and private gatherings of any number of people that are not part of a single household or living unit. This applies to events like traditional graduations.
“The state will reevaluate this recommendation on in-person public events once the state has seen a sustained downward trajectory in COVID-19. This is a rapidly changing and evolving situation, but it is unlikely that any large gatherings would be recommended throughout the summer,” the release stated.
“Any graduation event held at this time should be virtual or non-contact, and should not physically convene groups of people together.”
DHS ceremony recommendations
Holding a virtual graduation ceremony and mail diplomas to graduates.
Asking seniors to send individual videos with short messages to their graduating classmates. This, with the traditional filmed speeches by invited speakers, creates a longer film highlighting the graduates’ high school experiences and provides a long-term memento.
Highlighting seniors on social media each day with special hashtags that allow for family, friends, and community members to congratulate individual students with photos and messages.
Using business signs to display pictures of individual students.
Securing a digital billboard to display messages directly from graduates to his or her class. Expand that to include messages from families and friends to graduates as well.
School leaders could visit each graduate’s home, while remaining outside and at least six feet away, to congratulate and take photos of each graduate in their cap and gown and holding their diploma. This type of recognition may need to be conducted over the course of several days depending on the class size.
Gatherings of students and families in drive-through ceremonies, even in separate cars, may result in situations where ensuring adequate social distancing and protection of families and school staff is difficult. This may put students and their families at risk, particularly for students or family members with underlying risk factors that put them at risk for severe health impacts if they contract COVID-19.
However, if a school district pursues plans for a drive-through ceremony, more care and complex planning is required in attempting structured and controlled drive-through graduation ceremonies that minimize risk.
Concept 1: Students and their families drive up to the school wearing masks. Only the student gets out of the car to receive the diploma, the principal says the name of the student on a loudspeaker, a photo or video is taken of the student more than 6 feet from school staff, and the family drives away. All of this would be done in a single-file line with support from law enforcement to ensure public safety and flow of traffic.
Concept 2: All family members stay in the car. The senior is in the front seat and the principal passes the diploma through the car window and shares congratulations. Everyone wears masks. This could be held in alphabetical order, and would be done in a single-file line with support from law enforcement to ensure public safety and flow of traffic.