Weiser school board to finalize graduation plans

Steve Lyon

Weiser School District trustees will finalize plans for the 2020 Weiser High School graduation ceremony at a special meeting on Wednesday.
 A committee made up of district and WHS administrators, trustees and parents has been working for more than a month on details for graduation.
 School districts across the state have had to come up with alternatives to traditional graduations due to restrictions placed on public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
 WHS administrators have previously said they plan to keep Sunday, May 17, as the graduation date for the 124 seniors in the Class of 2020.
 At the same time trustees are discussing a graduation plan, an  online petition started by some WHS seniors seeks to scrap the May 17 date and hold an outdoor graduation ceremony at Memorial Park in June.
 The petition, which as of Tuesday had collected nearly 500 signatures, said the graduation date should be pushed back to allow seniors to wear caps and gowns and walk across the stage to receive their diploma.
 A commencement ceremony in June could comply with the governor’s multi-stage reopening  plan to gradually ease restrictions and allow public gatherings.
 “The class of 2020 has been through enough and deserves a graduation,” the petition states.
 Superintendent Wade Wilson said district administrators and trustees are aware of the petition to postpone graduation until it can be held outdoors.
 Wilson said school districts across the state have had to be creative in how they organize commencement activities for graduating seniors.
 Some are keeping their scheduled May dates and finding alternate ways to celebrate their graduating class, while others are delaying commencement to a later date when in-person events can be held.
 Similar to what the petition seeks to do at WHS, the hope in postponing commencement is that the state will continue to progress through the four stages of reopening as outlined by the governor, and that large gatherings of people will be allowed on the date that they choose. 
 Under the guidelines released last week for Opening Up Idaho, the Weiser district doesn’t believe it could hold a public gathering at Memorial Park in any of the early stages of reopening, Wilson said.
 However, if the state progresses through each stage without any setbacks it does appear that a public ceremony could occur in stage 4 (which is set to begin on June 13) so long as social distancing requirements are adhered to, Wilson said.
 COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the district this spring, starting with the closure of all schools on April 1 and switching to distance learning. That was followed by the cancellation of all high school spring sports.
 “The impact has been magnified for our current seniors who are closing out their K-12 careers and preparing to move on to new endeavors as young adults,” Wilson said.
 “We feel terrible the pandemic has forced a change to experiences typically enjoyed by students who are graduating.”

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