The Carroll Sr. High Class of 2020 will get to graduate at their home stadium on May 29 after all, as Carroll ISD announces a Modified Graduation Plan that will be live streamed for friends and family unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The modified graduation plan complies with Governor Greg Abbott’s most recent Executive Order, as well as guidance for in-person, outdoor graduation ceremonies from the Texas Education Agency. It has been reviewed by the school attorney, as well as approved by City of Southlake leaders and the Southlake Police Department.
CISD officials confirm that the event will be live streamed for those who are unable to attend in person. Individuals 65 years of age and older or those who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home and watch the event on the live stream links provided by CISD.
Carroll school officials say the plan includes numerous measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Carroll ISD was able to keep the same date and location as the original commencement ceremony, but announced a new start time for the event – 8:20 p.m., which is 2020 military time. Parking lots and gates will open at 7 p.m.
“We’re excited today to announce that we are going to have a modified graduation event. We have been working really hard on a plan,” said Superintendent Dr. David Faltys. “I think it’s going to be a great night where we can celebrate our Senior Class of 2020.”
School officials are following TEA recommendations by putting a cap on the number of guests that will be allowed to participate. The cap will also ensure that the stadium is only at 25 percent capacity on the night of graduation. A Senior Survey will be sent to the parents of each graduate on May 15. This survey will help identify which graduates will be attending and how many parents/siblings from the same household plan to attend. The event will not be open to extended family, friends or the general public.
Each senior will be given five tickets – one for the student and up to four for parents/siblings living in the same household. Those students who come from divorce/separation households will be allowed to request up to two more tickets for the additional family members.
Families will have assigned seating and be grouped by members of the same household. Guests will be spread out across both the home and visitor side stands. Custodial attendants will be present to wipe down hand rails, restroom stalls and other high touch areas in the stadium. Parking permits will be provided to each graduate and staff member. No one without a parking permit or official CISD ticket will be allowed in the stadium for the ceremony.
“Graduating our seniors at their home stadium has always been our first choice,” said Dr. Faltys. “We were recently notified that in-person, outdoor events could happen on or after May 29 as long as certain restrictions remain in place. We have worked with health and legal experts to make sure we are taking every precaution we can as we spend a couple of hours recognizing all the years of hard work these students have completed.”
School officials say participation in the event is completely optional for students and their families. Students, their guests and staff working at graduation will first have to complete a Health Questionnaire to ensure they are not experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19. The health questionnaire will be sent at 8 a.m. the day before the event. the questionnaire must be completed before the graduate can be given the parking permits/tickets. In addition to the survey, school nurses will be stationed at each entrance to take each individual’s temperature using a forehead thermometer. Anyone with 100 or higher temperature will not be allowed inside the stadium. This aligns with recommendations by TEA.
Students and staff will be wearing masks while moving to and from their seats, but will be allowed to remove their masks while seated because school officials say seats for graduates and staff on the field will be situated six feet apart. Signage will help remind guests to remain six feet apart. Families of graduates are encouraged to bring their own non-medical grade mask to wear until the reach their seats, but masks are merely recommended, not required by the Governor’s Executive Order. Students and staff will park on the visitor side of the stadium; all guests will park and enter the home side.
School officials say other modifications for the event include no gathering in the parking lot or on the field after the event. The Dragon Band will not be present nor will The Green Jackets serve as escorts this year. Honor graduates will not sit on stage due to space limitations, but they will have designated seating at the front of the graduating class during the ceremony. All speeches and performances by seniors will continue as originally planned. Each graduate’s name will be called as they accept their diploma from Principal Shawn Duhon who will wear gloves to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“We had other options for locations and dates, but we kept hearing that our kids and their families really wanted to graduate on their home field,” said Faltys. “We believe it’s important to practice safety precautions to ensure a wonderful night of celebration for these seniors. Waiting until July 31 could mean that some graduates are no longer available to participate or that a resurgence of COVID-19 cases by that time could case cancellation of the event.”
All the details of the Modified Graduation Plan are available on the Carroll ISD COVID-19 website.