Texas issues guidelines for hybrid, in-person high school graduation ceremonies

The Texas Education Agency on May 5 released a five-page document that outlines allowable procedures for graduation ceremonies. Ceremonies at indoor facilities, such as Leander ISD's 2019 ceremony, are not included in the state's guidelines on graduation events. (Courtesy Leander ISD)
The Texas Education Agency on May 5 released a five-page document that outlines allowable procedures for graduation ceremonies. Ceremonies at indoor facilities, such as Leander ISD's 2019 ceremony, are not included in the state's guidelines on graduation events. (Courtesy Leander ISD)

The Texas Education Agency on May 5 released a five-page document that outlines allowable procedures for graduation ceremonies. Ceremonies at indoor facilities, such as Leander ISD's 2019 ceremony, are not included in the state's guidelines on graduation events. (Courtesy Leander ISD)

Ahead of the graduation ceremonies for high school seniors across Texas, the state has provided guidelines for school districts on how to hold and conduct virtual and in-person ceremonies.

The Texas Education Agency on May 5 released a five-page document that outlines allowable procedures for graduation ceremonies.

Even as classrooms remain closed for instruction, the state will permit in-person graduation ceremonies with limitations. According to a TEA May 5 news release, rural counties may hold outdoor in-person ceremonies beginning May 15, and all Texas counties will be permitted to hold these ceremonies beginning June 1.

“Graduation ceremonies mark a major milestone for students and their families. All educators are committed first and foremost to ensuring the health and safety of our students, families and staff. By taking the necessary precautions developed by medical experts, we can ensure we appropriately honor our class of 2020 graduates while keeping everyone safe,” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in the May 5 news release.

To host an outdoor ceremony, the TEA mandates that school systems cap the number of participants—including students, families and staff—to a level that can be safely managed at the chosen venue. Further, participating students and family members must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 ahead of the ceremony.


Social distancing guidelines must be followed at the ceremonies, and hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be made available at the entry of the venue, according to the TEA guidelines. Diplomas may not be handed from one person to another unless gloves and masks are worn at all times.

The TEA added these guidelines are subject to change as health conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic change.

The state agency provided alternative ceremony guidelines for school districts across the state in lieu of in-person ceremonies.

According to the state, hybrid ceremonies, which show compilations of students filmed individually or in small groups, are allowable beginning May 15 in all counties. Students will come in to receive their high school diploma one at a time and have a photo or video taken, according to the TEA.

Prior to these hybrid ceremonies, all students must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

The TEA stated in its May 5 guidelines that no rehearsals are permitted for any in-person ceremonies.

The state opened the door for school districts to hold vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while graduates are recognized one at a time, according to the TEA.

Up to five individuals may be in a car at one time for these ceremonies, and the state is requiring similar safety and screening measures for vehicle ceremonies as hybrid or outdoor ceremonies.

School districts may hold graduation ceremonies hosted virtually at any time, the TEA stated in its May 5 guidelines.

The TEA advises school districts to consult with legal counsel before arranging graduation ceremonies. School districts must then seek written approval from applicable local jurisdictions to hold the planned ceremony.

To read the full list of guidelines set forth by the state for graduation ceremonies, read the TEA document found here.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


MOST RECENT

The property has been a redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization target for years. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin evaluating 6 plans to redevelop 19-acre St. John site into mixed-use district

The city has long been seeking to rejuvenate the St. John neighborhood property off I-35 with new housing, retail and recreational space.

Students at Norman-Sims Elementary School and Austin ISD's 124 other schools across the district will now be allowed to remove masks during outdoor physical activities with the permission of a parent or guardian. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD makes outdoor masking optional, eases other health, safety restrictions

Students engaging in outdoor physical activity will now have the option to remove masks.

Regal Arbor at Great Hills
Regal Arbor at Great Hills in Northwest Austin to resume screenings May 14

The Northwest Austin movie theatre will reopen to moviegoers with screenings of eight films this weekend.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chili’s Grill & Bar sign
Chili's Grill & Bar opens newest Austin restaurant in Four Points area

This Chili’s location offers curbside pickup service, delivery through Doordash and alcohol to go.

Sun City is located in Georgetown. (Courtesy Hunter Pontious)
Williamson County sees $14.6B year-over-year increase in taxable value

Chief Appraiser of Williamson Central Appraisal District Alvin Lankford presented preliminary Williamson County taxable values to the Commissioners Court on May 10.

Austin's phased process for moving people experiencing homelessness out of unregulated encampments will roll out through the summer. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
City officials detail homeless education and enforcement plan with Proposition B ordinances now in effect

The process that will eventually remove the city's homeless encampment begins this month with outreach and warnings and will stretch until late summer with full enforcement.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

Susan Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. (Courtesy American Medical Association)
'I am convinced we will beat COVID': American Medical Association President Susan Bailey discusses vaccine successes, myths, challenges

Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. Much of the organization's focus during that time has been on vaccine transparency and distribution.

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.