Lawrence school district modifies graduation plans to add staggered entry, exit

photo by: Nick Krug

A Lawrence High graduate is handed his diploma from school board president Shannon Kimball during the 2018 commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at LHS.

The Lawrence school district’s graduation ceremonies this weekend will now use a staggered entry and exit approach.

The school district announced late Thursday that it had modified plans for the Saturday graduation ceremonies for Lawrence High School and Free State High School in an effort to mitigate contact among students and guests.

In an email to the Journal-World on Friday, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said the staggered plan meant groups of graduates and their guests would enter the outdoor stadium, receive their diplomas, walk across the stage, take photos and exit the stadium before another group enters. Boyle said she did not know the number of people in the groups, but the plan aims to decrease the number of people who will be in the stadium at one time.

Additionally, previously announced precautions of requiring students and guests to remain 6 feet apart and wear masks will still be in effect, Boyle said. Guests will be allowed to take off their masks only for photos.

The change comes as cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Douglas County. The county has reported 489 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, an increase of seven cases since Wednesday, the Journal-World has reported.

However, prior to instituting a staggered approach, the school district had worked with and received clearance from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to host the events. Dan Partridge, the director of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, previously said in an email that the health department appreciated the opportunity to work with the school district to ensure a safe ceremony.

“The plan produced by USD 497 strikes an appropriate balance that allows for graduation to proceed by following public health guidelines that reduce the risk of disease through outdoor ceremonies and social distancing,” Partridge said in the email.

The Free State event will be at the school’s outdoor stadium at 8 a.m., and the LHS event will be at its outdoor stadium at 7 p.m. Those who do not attend can watch the events live on TV or online. Boyle said the ceremonies would be broadcast on MidcoSN (Midco cable channels 622 and 32) and the official MidcoSN Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MidcoSNKansas/.

Background:

• July 16, 2020 — Lawrence school district to host graduation ceremonies this weekend despite pandemic; officials say risks have been mitigated


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