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Valley school district 'developing plan' to hold in-person graduations

Posted at 11:00 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 02:04:21-04

CHANDLER, AZ — One Valley school district is “developing a plan” to hold in-person graduation ceremonies at each of its high schools, citing Governor Doug Ducey’s accelerated plans to re-open the state. ABC15 has learned, other districts could do the same.

Just a day after notifying parents the district would only hold virtual graduation ceremonies, the Chandler Unified School District changed course, announcing officials are planning socially-distanced ceremonies at each of the district’s high schools.

“The Governor’s decision opened the door for CUSD to revisit the idea of providing a more traditional graduation experience for our 2020 seniors,” said superintendent Camille Casteel, in a letter to parents.

Casteel said the ceremonies will be voluntary, and the district maintains its “official” graduation will still be held virtually.

According to the letter, students would still maintain social distancing, remaining at least six feet apart. Family members would still have to watch remotely, although the district says it is exploring the possibility of a limited audience.

The letter makes no mention of the outcry from parents, including some who signed a petition urging the district to hold in-person ceremonies. A spokesman confirmed the district had numerous complaints.

ABC15 reached out to the governor’s office for comment, after officials directly cited the governor’s actions. A spokesperson confirmed the governor has had numerous conversations with superintendents regarding graduation, adding “these are only discussions right now.”

“As with everything, public health and the safety of our students comes first. We will let you know of any guidance that comes out of these conversations,” said Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak.