Indian River School District to hold outdoor graduations in June

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The Indian River School District is moving forward with plans to host outdoor graduation ceremonies in June.

From elementary schools to colleges, classrooms across the state were shuttered in late March over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, creating a unique and frustrating set of challenges for high school seniors set to graduate this year.

Indian River School District (IRSD) Superintendent Mark Steele tells our Mike Bradley that graduation ceremonies will be held for the district’s graduating classes, but they will be limited in capacity and could be multi-sessional.

IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele tells WGMD’s Mike Bradley…

“My school principles are taking a team out and they’re going to measure the bleachers,” Steele said. “We have to apply very specific plans to DOE, which will also be examined by the Department of Health, and we have to maintain the social distancing of the parents for seating.”

The plan that the district comes up with will have to be reviewed and approved by the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) under the oversight of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to ensure the safety of both graduates and attendees.

“In some cases, we may have to look at a multi-sessional graduation,” Steele explained. “With in-between sessions having someone come in and basically go over the area with some type of spray or blower to make sure everything’s safe.”

District officials were considering having graduates come in individually with their parents for the ceremony to ensure proper social distancing, according to Steele, but plans changed after the Governor announced that large-gatherings of 250 people or less would be permitted under special social distancing circumstances.

“With the 250 limit, and with the opportunity to apply for more, we got a little more direction with Dr. Bunting [DOE Secretary] yesterday,” Steele said. “250 people includes the graduates, at one of my high schools, Indian River, I have 220 graduates, and at the other high school, Sussex Central, I have 422, so there’s going to be issues with the number of people.”

Detailed plans will be shared with parents sometime in the coming weeks.