The Fort Davis ISD graduation ceremony protocol that was posted last week seems to be generating several negative comments, with many parents expressing dissatisfaction. The process used to determine the ceremony protocols is described below:
The majority of Fort Davis residents (particularly parents) seemed to support the previous stringent stay at home measures, social distancing, and personal protective equipment use in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents and community members had indicated strong support for the closure of the school (before the Governor ordered it), expressing fear of virus contamination and spread. Indeed, many parents and community members have expressed a desire for continued use and enforcement of the restrictive social measures.
The Texas Education Agency, in an effort to provide guidance to state school districts that would comply with the Governor's executive orders, issued two primary graduation ceremony documents that outlined ceremonies in four categories: virtual, hybrid, vehicle based, and outdoor. This guidance has been posted on our website and FaceBook page. This guidance was completely aligned with what we believed to be the community endorsed concerns and protective measures mentioned above. Given these two sets of information, FDISD administration, NOT the FDISD Board of Trustees, developed the aforementioned graduation protocol. The specificity of "5" family members was not included in any government documents. That number was simply a calculation of the number of people that could be reasonably seated in the home football stands and still maintain 6 foot spacing for social distancing purposes. FDISD will not, and cannot, encourage any activity that could be construed as a violation of any county, state, or federal executive orders.
FDISD did receive confirmation from the Texas Education Agency that they will not be checking the efficacy of our graduation ceremony, and that the ceremony itself is a local decision, made in coordination with any guidance from the Jeff Davis County Judge.
FDISD only wants what best for our children, staff, and community. Therefore, the FDISD Board of Trustees supports the administration's following position on the graduation ceremony:
FDISD will provide hand sanitizer for all guests and graduates entering the football field area and stands. FDISD will escort 5 family members of each graduate to preferred and randomly selected seating areas in the home football field stands, checking their temperature with non-contact devices. FDISD will collect the COVID-19 questionnaires and statements from each of the graduates' families prior to seating. FDISD will allow any other guests that wish to view the ceremony from their vehicles to drive in the football field area and park along the rail on a first come-first serve basis. Following the seating of the family sets and the entry of vehicles for parking around the field FDISD will NOT enforce any other COVID-19 related health measures. If guests wish to sit, stand, or congregate in groups without following the 6 foot social distancing protocol, they may do so, as FDISD will not intervene. If guests, or students, wish to wear protective masks they may do so. Masks are not required. If the seated family members wish to move closer together with the other people in the stands they may do so. FDISD encourages all guests to continue to follow the published COVID-19 health guidelines, but will not enforce those guidelines with graduation guests. If community, or family, members feel participating in such a ceremony would be unsafe, they are free to remain at home, view the ceremony from a safe distance, or view the ceremony on FaceBook Live. Attendance is not required. FDISD does encourage those family members that wish to participate to arrive early, as screening will take some time.
Graduates will still have a scheduled time to record their virtual diploma awarding ceremony in the auditorium on Wednesday, May 20. That information has been, or will shortly be, sent to graduates. In the event of inclement weather, the outdoor ceremony will be cancelled and not rescheduled. The previously recorded virtual ceremony will be posted for viewing.
FDISD is proud of our graduates and wish the 2019-2020 school year had progressed and ended normally, allowing all the experiences one would expect in their senior year. Unfortunately, some things are simply not under our control, and we simply have to do the best we can with what we have. We look forward to seeing our graduates and guests on Friday, May 22.
Please call the superintendent's office at 432-426-4440 if you have any questions.