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Waco ISD students petition graduation plans

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Posted at 7:20 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 18:35:40-04

WACO, Texas — Waco ISD seniors are petitioning the district to allow parents and other family members to attend their graduation ceremonies set for the end of May.

Waco ISD announced they would be holding ceremonies at Waco ISD stadium May 29 and 30 but would not allow students to bring guests.

Senior class officers from University High School and Waco High School gathered to petition the school district for a later graduation in hopes their parents will be allowed to attend.

An online petition led by Angela Vega claimed, "it's not fair for loved ones to miss out on our accomplishments."

The 2020 senior class saw their final semester cut short by COVID-19.

"I was really upset because that was like the only thing we were looking forward to as parents and seniors because all of our activities were taken away," UHS senior class president Britney Silva said.

Other districts, like Killeen ISD, have announced plans to hold virtual graduations.

Midway ISD plans to hold an in-person ceremony in June with "extensive safety plans in light of COVID-19 restrictions."

"We understand that it's for the safety of everyone, but we just feel like there were other options that weren't fully considered," UHS senior class treasurer Jalissa Jural said.

Waco ISD Superintendent, Dr. Susan Kincannon, released a statement today about the petition, explaining why the district chose not to push back the graduation date:

"I appreciate how our high school class officers take their roles as leaders and representatives of their classmates seriously. My heart goes out to each of them and the entire Class of 2020. None of us could have imagined the kind of ending that this group of seniors would have. This is not my or anyone's first choice for how we would like to celebrate their accomplishments.

Based on the state’s guidance for school districts, holding graduation on a later date would not change the options that are available. Our decision to host graduation ceremonies at the stadium on May 29 and 30 is intended to honor our students at the first available opportunity.

School districts have a requirement to screen everyone coming in for signs that they could have the virus, as well as all of the seniors. This creates an additional challenge beyond our concern regarding our ability to safely maintain social distancing at the limited number of entrances/exits at the stadium.

To ensure that our students have a special memory with their families, individual time slots will be provided for each graduate and their family to pick up their diploma at their campus and have a professional photograph taken in their caps and gowns.

While a traditional graduation ceremony is not planned, it’s our hope that we can still create a special moment and memory for our graduates.”