MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools administrators are still trying to sort through how to handle graduation for hundreds of seniors in a few weeks. However, there is little chance that big graduation ceremonies will happen.
It can be the highlight of the year for parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. But with COVID-19 radically changing our habits, commencement seems less and less likely with each passing day.
MCPS superintendent Rob Watson told the school board this week there's little chance of the end of the year celebration being anything like it has been in the past.
"No matter when we hold the ceremony, it's going to look a lot different than it has in years past," Watson said. "And I say that because if you imagine the graduation ceremonies we've had before, with 3,000 people in attendance inside the Adams Center, I can't see any situation where that would be accepted or allowed by our county health department."
Watson says the problem is the restrictions around large gatherings. Right now under Phase 1, it's just 10 people and only climbs to 50 under Phase 2. And that limits a number of ideas, even holding commencement outdoors.
"Its likely not going to look the same way that it's looked like before, no matter what plan we come up with," Watson said. "And we will come back to the board on May 12 with a definitive plan. But no matter what plan we come up with, it's going to have to be approved by the local health department, specifically our county health officer."
However, Watson says the district is still reviewing a number of options, with a commitment to come up with a way to celebrate the Class of 2020's accomplishment.
"This particular document is specific to the actual ceremony," Watson said. "But I wanted to point out there's much more we can do and we should do for our graduates beyond just the ceremony."
The other school districts in the area say they're also trying to development graduation plans in the next couple of weeks.