Sioux Falls School District plans in-person graduation with safety measures

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 4:57 PM CDT
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After months of uncertainty, high school seniors in Sioux Falls will be getting an in-person graduation after all.

While this is good news for many students, COVID-19 is still a major factor in the ceremony’s planning process.

In just over a week, Sioux Falls area seniors will be at the Howard Wood Field for the in-person graduation ceremony that many had been hoping for.

While green lighting the in-person ceremony was mainly student-led, there were several factors that came into play in the decision-making process.

Sioux Falls Superintendent Brian Maher said, “We have a student component, we have a family component, and both of those pieces were incredibly relevant in the decision process.”

It also helped that Sioux Falls had lifted regulations citywide.

“Our public health mentors, if you will, it’s guidance from the CDC, and it is guidance from our state health department. It is guidance from our city. So, all of those factors played in as well,” said Maher.

While the ceremony will be similar to past years, there will still be safety measures to follow.

Maher said, “Our graduates will not get handed a diploma and their hands won’t be shaken by the administration or by board members. So, there will be some differences there.”

Graduates and those attending will also be seated spaced apart.

He said, “Where you sit, how to enter, how you leave, that will be different,” Maher added. “We’ll have both sides of Howard Wood Field open.”

The stadium seats about 10,000, allowing family & friends to maintain plenty of distance from one another.

“You could be 20-30 yards apart from the next closest person to you. So, it should look like a really poorly attended football game, ideally. Yet, we could put 3,000 to 4,000 people in there and people still don’t have to bunch up,” said Maher.

Before officially moving forward with planning, Dr. Maher says they surveyed graduates to make sure they would still come.

He said, “Based on the survey response, I think our student population and our family population are excited to have this opportunity.”

In addition to the in-person graduation announcement the school district is also planning to begin in-person classes on August 27 but they are prepared to modify as needed.

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