District to hold virtual graduations
After exploring multiple options for traditional high school graduations, and knowing the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Davis School District will hold virtual graduations for the Class of 2020.
At the present time, all district students have been dismissed from school until the end of the school year. All student travel, athletic practices and games, concerts, musicals, plays, performances, and banquets have also been cancelled.
Currently, the washing of hands, the covering of noses and mouths when sneezing, not touching one’s face, the use of face masks or bandanas and the practice of social distancing — even for groups of 10 people — remain the only remedies currently available to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. A vaccine has yet to be developed.
“Do we love high school graduation? No doubt,” said Chris Williams, Davis School District director of communication & operations. “I was looking at graduation photos I’ve taken over the years — capturing those magical moments when friends are hugging. ... They’re special occasions, and it kind of breaks your heart thinking, ‘We can’t pull that off this year.’ But you do what you need to do to keep people safe. That’s our No. 1 priority.”
While graduation is at the forefront of the minds of many, the district is also preparing and anticipating the opening of school next year. The health and safety of students, staff and families is paramount.
The Board of Education backs virtual graduations, writing in a statement, “The board supports the decision to move forward on producing high-quality virtual graduations that can be accessed by every family and celebrated in a way they see fit in their home. Principals are collaborating with their staffs and student leaders to create an excellent graduation experience even in this unprecedented time.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, in a March 21, 2020, letter to district superintendents, also wrote, “As the Class of 2020 prepares for one of the defining moments of any generation, high school graduation, it is up to all of us to ensure these students receive the recognition they have earned in as safe as environment as possible.”
Details regarding the steps being taken to honor and recognize the district’s graduating seniors in virtual graduations have already been communicated to graduates and their parents and guardians. Those aspects could include:
- Presentation of all graduates, including an individual portrait of every student in a cap, gown and other graduation regalia. Those portraits would be part of an individual video segment that would include a personalized statement of gratitude and list of accomplishments or extracurricular activities.
- Speeches from student representatives, the school principal and a school board member.
- Musical numbers, video highlights and other school graduation traditions.
The district considered many alternatives planned by schools across the country, including drive-in graduation ceremonies. But one of the district’s challenges is that it has large high schools.
“We just don’t have the ability to have a drive-in sort of situation,” Williams said. “It’s one thing to be on the front row. It’s another thing to be 30 rows back. To force a family to stay in a car together for a few hours while they sit and watch a graduation? We just didn’t see that as being something that would even be enjoyable.”
All district high school graduations will be broadcast May 26 at 6 p.m. through social media. Information about how graduates and their families will be able to view the ceremonies will be sent out as soon as those details are finalized.
Dr. Dan Linford, Davis School District high school director, also added, “In addition to our virtual graduation, our high schools are committed to providing more ‘in-person’ culminating activities for our 2020 graduates if and when it is safe to do so. Those activities may take place during the summer months if health restrictions allow.
“We look forward to celebrating our amazing graduates if we can do that,” he said.