Vista Ridge High School
Thursday, June 25
Sand Creek High School
Friday, June 26
Falcon High School
Saturday, June 27
All graduation ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. at the UCHealth Park, home of the Rocky Mountain Vibes. Ceremonies will be live streamed. Scroll down for announcement and planning details.
May 4, 2020
Dear D49 Families,
Thank you for participating in two community forums about graduation planning. More than 2,700 of you have engaged with our plans, contributing more than 30,000 thoughts and ratings. Thank you! Your main priorities were to hold a traditional (vs. virtual or drive-in) ceremony, in an outdoor venue, with family members attending. We are eager to meet the first two priorities, and grieved that we will almost certainly not be able to support an audience of family members or other in-person guests at the ceremony.
Today we will submit our general graduation plan to El Paso County Public Health. The county will approve plans based on guidelines that have been cleared by the health department, local hospitals, the county commissioners, and finally, the state. As a district we are doing our best to uphold our community’s preferences while complying with state and county guidelines. Although the desire for family attendance at graduation is clear, we cannot, as a public entity, defy the governor’s order, or put our commencements at risk of disapproval or disruption.
Based on the county’s guidance, we are moving forward to host student only graduation ceremonies for our large, comprehensive high schools on June 25, 26, and 27. The principals have agreed to celebrate Vista Ridge graduates on Thursday, June 25, Sand Creek graduates on Friday, June 26, and Falcon graduates on Saturday, June 27—all ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m., with detailed instructions for seniors to follow.
By scheduling in late June, we are preserving the very slight possibility that Governor Polis will amend his order to permit guests at graduations. No leader in any official capacity has even hinted that he will do so, and many officials have stated explicitly that he will not. But we have a plan for safe guest participation should that guidance change.
A team from all D49 high schools is finalizing detailed plans for graduation ceremonies. We are pleased to be making arrangements with our local partners at UCHealth Park and the Rocky Mountain Vibes to host our ceremonies at their complex, which has capacity to host all graduates while still practicing safe social distancing. The venue also has excellent audio-visual equipment, a massive jumbotron to feature senior pictures, and excellent capacity for high-quality, live-streaming video.
Thank you for engaging with us on this difficult decision. We understand that many will be disappointed by our plans, and we empathize especially with the class of 2020. For graduates who choose not to attend, for any reason, we will still honor and recognize you in the presence of your classmates and the online audience. We will do our best to preserve the moments that matter by ensuring that every graduate has an opportunity to cross a stage and receive a diploma, with cheers and respect from us all.
For the D49 Team, with respect and regards,
Chief Education Officer
2020 Graduation Plan for District 49
El Paso County Public Health has set up guidelines for in-person high school graduation ceremonies. Multiple D49 schools will implement this graduation plan, using those guidelines, at the same venue on multiple days. If necessary, to accommodate weather disruptions, we may host an identical ceremony with identical protocols in one of our football stadiums.
El Paso County Public Health encourages school districts to hold ceremonies in a staggered manner as late into the spring or summer as possible to allow for the evaluation of current loosening of social distancing practices
D49: We will schedule our ceremonies on June 25-27 at UCHealth Park.
We will stagger our ceremonies on different days, to avoid overlap by participants and to provide time to fully disinfect the venue between ceremonies.
EPCPH: Ceremony plans must include a fully virtual option in the event incoming data contraindicates hosting in-person ceremonies.
D49: If weather disrupts our ceremonies to the degree that rescheduling is unsafe or impractical, we will conduct the ceremony using a videoconferencing tool (Zoom or equivalent).
EPCPH: Ceremonies are required to be held outside with weather contingency plans of transition to virtual only or tents. Interior ceremonies are prohibited.
D49: We intend to host our ceremonies at the UCHealth Park. We will schedule our ceremonies for 9:00 a.m., to avoid spring storms that typically impact the afternoon. If weather disrupts our ceremonies to the degree that rescheduling is unsafe or impractical, we will conduct the ceremony using a videoconferencing tool (Zoom or equivalent). We have no plans for an indoor ceremony.
EPCPH: Ceremonies are to be STUDENT ONLY with minimal staff required to manage students and flow of ceremonies. (Emphasis in original)
D49: We are planning a student-only ceremony modeled after the USAFA, and we have a supplemental plan for guests, should community conditions change and social guidelines relax.
EPCPH: All students and staff would need to meet 6 ft social distancing at all times including entering and exiting the ceremony. If outside facilities cannot accommodate the 6 ft distancing, graduation ceremonies would need to be done in the number of shifts that would allow for distancing.
D49: Staff members will monitor and direct appropriate safe distancing at all times while students are moving. We will use designated seating to guarantee six-foot separation. Our preferred (Vibes Field) and backup (School Stadium) venues are all large enough to accommodate safe distancing.
EPCPH: No parents/observers on-site (ceremonies must be broadcast electronically for all viewers).
D49: We will live-stream and record all ceremonies. Even if the governor’s order changes and some guests are allowed, we will offer a remote viewing option.
EPCPH: No associated social gatherings of students or faculty at facilities prior to or following the ceremony.
D49: We will not plan a rehearsal, or any other type of gathering before or after the actual ceremony.
EPCPH: All students and staff must be in masks at all times with the exception of individual photographs by official photographer while social distancing from others
D49: We will require and monitor to ensure that all students, staff , and guests (if permitted by a revised executive order) will wear masks at all times, except for official photographs.
EPCPH: No touch or contact receipt of the diploma such as presentation on a table by staff to be picked up by the student.
D49: We will provide diplomas to students using a no-contact method, either by placing them at each student’s seat, or by placing them in a location where students retrieve them individually.
EPCPH: Permission slip or behavior contract to be signed by student and family concerning risks mitigation to include Health screening survey completed prior to ceremony (fever, cough, congestion, chills, or otherwise unwell in the student or member of your household in the past 14 days?) with any positive answers being exclusionary to the ceremony.
D49: We have developed a permission contract that will be signed by each participant and their parents, specifying all required assurances. We will also provide graduates a copy of this plan, and additional ceremony details.
EPCPH: Organizers must include an inclusionary plan for accommodating families or students not wishing to or who are unable to participate in person.
D49: Our ceremonies are invitational, but not mandatory. Students who do not attend in person will be recognized, and all individuals who prefer to participate remotely will have that option using a videoconferencing platform.