Graduation Ceremony Approved by Big Sandy Board
May 13, 2020
Angel Johnson, PHN, Chouteau County Public Health wrote the following letter:
“To all Big Sandy Senior Parents--Currently, we do not have an answer as to when the Governor will move the community into Phase II of the re-opening plan. Unfortunately, this makes scheduling events to celebrate your student’s graduation tenuous at best.”
“In phase 1 of the Governor’s plan, places of assembly are to remain closed. This would include the Senior Center, Church halls, community halls, and any other gathering place. We received clarification on 5’7’2020 that the groups of 10 need not be family groups; no related people in groups of 10 or less are allowed to congregate in outdoor public places using appropriate social distancing strategies. In light of this new information, if you would like to have a public outdoor event for your senior, please contact the Public Health Department at 622-3771 for logistic suggestions and approval.”
“It is recommended that vulnerable populations (e.g., those over 65 or with chronic health conditions) continue to remain at home.”
“In the event that the Governor moves Montana into Phase II of his plan before the end of the month, your events may take place with the gathering limit of 50 people and continuation of appropriate social distance guidelines.”
“Please note that the travel restrictions still apply to anyone traveling into Montana from out of state. These people are required to Quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for the length of their visit if it is less than 14 days.”
“While we feel for the inconvenience and disappointment this causes you and your student/s; we believe it is in the best interest of keeping Chouteau County residents safe and healthy.”
Big Sandy High School has been working with Angel Johnson, and both Plan A and Plan B for the Graduation on May 17, 2020, have been approved. Both plans start at 6:00 pm with the main street parade of graduates before the ceremony. Everyone in the community is encouraged to park downtown, line the street, and celebrate the achievement of our Seniors.
Plan A is for good weather with graduation on the football field. The ceremony will also be live-streamed. The graduating seniors and their family members (10 max) will have chairs grouped into family units on the field according to spacing guidelines provided by the MT-PEC Playbook and our plans approved by the Chouteau County Department of Public Health.
Each senior will be provided one vehicle pass for vulnerable family members (please refer to attached Policy 1903). All passengers will remain in their vehicles and not be allowed to enter the field. We recommend this isolation precaution not only to allow for participation but also to strive for the protection of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. Parking will be reserved on the East edge of the track and allowed immediately prior to graduation. No other vehicles will be granted access around the field within the fence. Passenger vehicles (<9 persons) only: no buses, motorhomes, flatbed trailers, or other creative means of transport.
It will be announced and posted in the program that no wandering or mingling will be allowed before, during, or after the ceremony. All participants will be directed to leave immediately following the ceremony.
Public bathrooms will be open at the East side of the Gym/Annex but limited to one person at a time with a monitor present to enforce.
Senior boards/tables will be in the gym and spaced 6 feet apart. A monitor will be present to assist with appropriate social distancing. The gym will be open 1 hour before and 1 hour after graduation with access allowed at wagon/concession entrance and handicap accessible South gym entrance. Sanitizing protocols are recommended for the graduates when they handle and open their gifts.
Senior awards will be announced, printed in the program, and displayed on the graduate tables in the gym.
Plan B is for bad weather. Graduation will be moved into the High School gym with seating limited to 50 people. The ceremony will also be live-streamed. Due to spacing, only immediate family can attend (mom, dad, brother, sister). It will be announced and posted in the program that no wandering or mingling will be allowed before, during, or after the program. All participants will be directed to leave immediately following the ceremony. Public bathrooms will be open in the main hallway but limited to one person at a time with a monitor present to enforce.
Mask use is strongly suggested inside the gym before, during, and after the ceremony. Personal Liberty Expectation: The Chouteau County Department of Public Health recommends that vulnerable populations (e.g. those over 65 or with chronic health conditions) continue to remain at home. However, the District realizes that the decision to attend the ceremony on the field, in your vehicle or the gym rests with you and your risk-benefit assessment.
Please note that the travel restrictions still apply to anyone traveling into Montana from out of state. These people are required to Quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for the length of their visit if it is less than 14 days.
Big Sandy Board Policy 1903—“The Board of Trustees may authorize School District physical meetings, gatherings, and events when the event is deemed essential to district operations. Physical meetings, gatherings, and events shall not be held without prior authorization of the Board of Trustees.”
“All attendees at physical meetings, gatherings, and events held on school property in an outdoor area including the stadium, field, or other open area designated by the Board of Trustees shall be required to honor the applicable health and safety protocols outlined in District Policy 1905 including, but not limited to, physical distancing. The School District shall provide suitable space for physical distancing to occur and, if practicable, markings and walking routes in the area where the event shall be held to preserve a safe event setting.”
“Physical meetings, gatherings, and events shall be limited to 50 people when held inside a school building. All attendees at a meeting, gathering, or event authorized by the Board of Trustees held inside the school facility are required to honor the health and safety protocols outlined in District Policy 1905.”
“Vulnerable individuals (defined by the Centers for Disease Control at the time of this policy’s adoption as those age 65 or older or those with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy) must not attend School District meetings, gatherings, or events held in accordance with this policy. Precautions must be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents. The School District shall accommodate vulnerable individuals so they may participate in the meeting gathering or event via electronic means.”
“Enforcement: Visitors to any school building or any attendee at a meeting, gathering, or event authorized by the Board of Trustees in accordance with this policy who fail to honor the requirements of District Policy or the directives of School District officials shall be asked to correct their conduct or leave the meeting, gathering, or event in accordance District Policy 4315.”
Angel Johnson wrote, “Please clarify that Chouteau County Public Health has been working with the Big Sandy School regarding graduation ceremony planning. It has been a very cooperative agreement. We are excited for your seniors and their families. We have not approved anything else regarding graduation get together in Big Sandy. If persons are planning an event, please have them reach out to the health dept. as we do not want any miscommunication being put forth in a blanket statement by anyone that Chouteau County Health Dept. has approved anything beyond High School Graduation.”