El Campo school district officials were forced to rethink graduation plans once again after the Texas Education Agency released COVID-19 guidelines for ceremonies Tuesday.
The TEA announced that outdoor graduation ceremonies can be held before June 1 only by rural counties qualifying for attestation under Governor Greg Abbott’s order to reopen Texas. All Texas counties are free to hold outdoor social distancing ceremonies on or after June 1.
One of the conditions for attestation is that the county have five or fewer active COVID-19 cases as of April 30 or on a later date. As of presstime, Wharton County has 15 active cases and 41 confirmed positive cases total.
El Campo ISD officials will meet to discuss graduation Tuesday. The district’s new plan is to hold graduation on July 23 at Ricebird Stadium. Initially, the district planned to hold a ceremony on May 22 while practicing social distancing standards.
Louise High School will now hold its graduation ceremony at 8 p.m. on June 5 at the Louise Hornet Stadium. This year, the ceremony will be a “no-touch” event and five guests per senior can sit in the bleachers. Before the TEA’s May 5 announcement, the district planned to hold the event on May 22.
Families attending must sit six feet apart from other families.
LHS officials are exploring other ways to seat additional attendees in accordance with social distancing rules.
“I’m sure (the seniors) will remember their graduation and getting back together as a group one more time,” Louise High School Principal Donna Kutac said. “Especially since many thought we would not have a graduation.”
In the case of bad weather, the LHS ceremony will be held at the high school gym with a two attendee per student limit or graduation could be delayed.
“What we normally do is we watch the radar and if we can have it, then we’ll have it,” ECHS Principal Demetric Wells said. “If we can’t, we’ll have an alternate date.”
Virtual and drive-by graduation ceremonies are permitted by the TEA in all counties before and after June 1.
For more information on the TEA’s graduation guidelines, visit Tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/guidance_for_2020_seniors_updated.pdf.