Douglas County to hold in-person graduations

Events, with numerous precautions, begin week of June 22

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Douglas County seniors have an answer to one question regarding their uprooted final year of high school — they will be able to attend high school commencement ceremonies in person.

The Douglas County School District has scheduled a marathon of 14 commencement ceremonies at EchoPark Stadium in Parker after a variance request for in-person graduations got state approval. Most would be the week of June 22.

Still, the district had to plan numerous adjustments to the typical festivities.

Graduates will be allowed to bring a maximum of two guests. Seniors will be assigned seating in one of four quadrants and spaced six feet apart, Director of Athletics, Activities and Student Leadership Derek Chaney said.

“We'll use the whole 100-yard football field,” Chaney said.

Ceremonies might feature a soloist or faculty speaker, but the district could not allow full-scale choirs and bands like it normally would. The events are also capped at 90 minutes, according to the variance.

There will not be a diploma handoff or the traditional handshake from school board directors, Chaney said. Students will pick up their diploma from a table. The variance does not permit the traditional cap toss, either. Once the event wraps up, attendees must walk straight to their vehicles. No congregating, Chaney said.

Attendees will be required to wear masks until they are seated. The district will provide mask for those without one and has at least 6,000 ready and waiting, Chaney said.

Anyone who is not able to attend, such as out-of-state relatives or people at high-risk of the COVID-19 virus, can watch the ceremonies via livestream.

In-between ceremonies, staff will clean the stadium, wiping down handrails and benches. Two to three events are slated nearly every day of the week.

After much preparation, the district is ready to see its seniors get their diploma, Chaney said.

“We're excited to do it, we are excited to get the graduates here,” Chaney said.

Assistant Superintendent Ted Knight said the district worked closely with the board of education, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the Tri-County Health Department to make the variance possible.

The district received considerable feedback from students and parents “about what this day means for them,” he said.

“I just want to make sure we're thanking our community for having patience with us while we really try to do this the right way,” Knight said.

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