RUPERT, Idaho — An Idaho high school will be holding an in-person graduation this year, but because of COVID-19 concerns, the ceremony will look a little different.
The Minidoka County School District has decided to move forward with their plan to celebrate graduation for Minico High School's 190 seniors.
The in-person ceremony is scheduled for May 21, and will be held on the football field. Only graduating seniors and two of their family members will be allowed to attend--and they must arrive by car. Once inside the field, seniors will be kept 6-10 feet apart, and will not be handed their diploma directly. Instead, the diploma will be placed on a table so they can pick it up without human contact.
Those watching the ceremony will be sitting in bleachers and will be kept 6 feet apart from each other.
The district says they will be working with police to ensure the graduation runs smoothly and follows social distancing guidelines. The district is also encouraging everyone to wear masks, although it's not required.
"It was a difficult decision, but we feel it was a decision we feel because of the precautions we're insisting upon, our students and staff will be protected," said district superintendent Dr. Kenneth Cox.
The district deliberated for weeks on whether to hold the ceremony at all. May 21 falls in phase two of the governor's plan to reopen Idaho, and gatherings of more than 50 people aren't supposed to happen until phase four, which is slated for June 13 at the earliest. The district says under the governor's rebound plan, gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed as long as social distancing guidelines are met.
"We felt if we didn't move forward we'd lose a lot of students moving on for the summer," said Cox. "Students have had a hard time getting through the year already, we felt it was best for us to try and hold that normalcy at the end of the year."
The district says if seniors and their family members don't feel comfortable attending the ceremony in person, they're not required to. They plan to livestream the event, or they say seniors can wait in their car outside the ceremony and honk when their name is called.
The district presented their plan to the South Central Public Health District, who said they approved of the plan but were concerned about the timing.
"We have talked to Minico High School. We have expressed our concerns about a gathering of this size at this point, but the decision is ultimately up to them and their students," said Brianna Bodily, Public Information Officer for the South Central Public Health District. "They approached us with a plan that we appreciate, the problem is that for a grouping of this size they should be waiting until after stage 4."
The graduation ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.