Outdoor, drive-thru graduation OK, Texas Education Agency says

Texas school districts may hold outdoor graduation ceremonies starting next month and smaller counties may do so even sooner, the Texas Education Agency said in updated guidance Tuesday. (MGN)
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(KWTX) Texas school districts may hold outdoor graduation ceremonies starting next month and smaller counties may do so even sooner, the Texas Education Agency said in updated guidance Tuesday.

Districts, however, should check with their attorneys before proceeding, the TEA says.

Between May 15 and May 31, outdoor ceremonies are permitted in rural counties with low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but they should be held in the largest available outdoor venue to allow for maximum spacing and graduates should be provided with face masks.

An outdoor ceremony may take place in any county on or after June 1, but guidance could change if health conditions change.

Virtual graduation ceremonies are approved and hybrid ceremonies involving a video of students recorded individually or in small groups may proceed effective May 15.

Drive-thru graduations are also approved effective May 15.

Graduates and their families must remain in their vehicles and will drive to the stage as the graduate’s name is called.

The graduate may then get out of the vehicle to walk across the stage to receive a diploma from an administrator or dignitary who’s wearing gloves.

Participants may remain in their vehicles to review video of previously recorded speeches.

Districts are not required to calculate grade point averages for graduating seniors but if they choose to modify their policies, “care should be taken to ensure equity in the application of the policy for all impacted students.”

Class ranking, the TEA says, is also a local decision and is not required, but “districts and open-enrollment charter schools must identify junior and senior students in the top 10% of their class for the purposes of eligibility for automatic college admission to a Texas institution of higher education.”

“Districts may choose to calculate GPA and class rank for the first four six weeks of the school year only. However, any method for calculation of GPA and class rank should be applied to all impacted students equitably.”