No traditional graduations will be permitted prior to July 1, according to Arkansas Commissioner of Education Johnny Key during Saturday afternoon’s COVID-19 Governor’s update.
While school districts are eager to celebrate the accomplishments of their seniors now, Key is encouraging districts to wait until after July 1.
“It may be a disappointment and it is a disappointment,” said Key. “One thing having this date does is it provides certainty for schools that they know that there is a time in the future that we can look forward to.”
Key said he will be consulting with the health department and will revisit the option for traditional graduations closer to the July 1 date but if districts are wanting to do something prior, he is accepting proposals of non-traditional graduation ceremonies.
“We celebrate the accomplishments of these students but we also look forward to their opportunities of the future,” said Key. “When you have friends and family members coming from across the state, and in many cases from out-of-state for a traditional graduation ceremony, we simply can not mitigate sufficiently the risk of spread in a situation like that.”
Key said there are a number of techniques that other schools have already explored to celebrate their seniors such as remotely and by video while taking into consideration, the social distancing and mass gathering guidelines.
“A graduation, just with the family members, that gets to 10 or more people very quickly,” said Key.
Key said proposals from school districts will be sent to him this week to evaluate their non-traditional graduation ceremonies.
“We ask that all schools be patient as we work through this situation,” said Key. “I would encourage you to wait. That would be my encouragement to school districts would be to wait until after July 1 .”
Key said more information will be sent to school district superintendents this week.