Our Opinion: State’s halting of high school, college graduations disappointing

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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Nobody has been happy about how the year 2020 has progressed so far because of COVID-19.

From an abysmal economy to transferring schools to distance learning, there has been very little that hasn’t been touched by the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Class of 2020 is no exception as many of the memories that make a senior year memorable, including graduation, have been cancelled.

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The Austin Public School District, in partnership with entities within the community, are taking extraordinary efforts to ensure the students are given some sort of graduation experience and we whole-heartedly applaud those efforts.

The work being put in shows an incredible depth of caring for the students within our community; however, the move by the state to harshly restrict graduation ceremonies to the point where large group graduations can’t be held at any school within the state have thrown a wrench into the planning gears.

This is another blow to the students that will not get their senior year back and we question if such restrictions are necessary.

We understand the situation of the state and the reasons for overall restrictions in order to avoid hospitals and healthcare workers from behind overwhelmed by cases. We agree with many of the circumstances, but we question why such strict steps were taken without allowing other alternatives.

We feel the state took plenty of time to come to this very difficult situation, but there have been some churches that have been allowed to hold services, including Grace Baptist’s amazing work to hold drive-in services in the parking lot of Hobby Lobby so long as they stay within vehicles. Is not such an idea not worth exploring for graduations?

This isn’t being critical of the work of Grace or any other church that does this. We think it’s a creative way to still hold on to some normalcy.

We recognize that there is a lot of back and forth to this issue as well as so many others, including opening up the state in order to let people get back to work. Granted, there may be logistical issues with schools the size of Austin, but we believe it’s at least worth looking at those ideas without a single swipe that bans them all together.

At the same time, we know that some schools may not feel comfortable of large scale graduations, concerned for the wellbeing of the students, and that’s something to think about as well.

It’s just nice to have options.

APS’ work, as well as the work of all school officials and community members throughout the state, to still try to find a way to give these students some sort of experience is a great example of districts going the extra mile for its students.

Caps off to the schools and seniors putting in the work.