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Graduation Letter
Graduation Letter
David Carter
Wednesday, May 06, 2020

UTOPIA INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT P. O. DRAWER 880 

PHONE (830) 966-3339 UTOPIA, TEXAS 7888

FAX (830) 966-6162 

Students, Staff, Parents and Stakeholders, 

After guidance from TEA, Legal Counsel and Judge Mitchell, we must limit our grouping to five people per spot. Each student will be allowed to bring a total of 10 guests. Each attendee will need to arrive with their graduate. All attendees will need to be screened prior to entering per TEA guidelines. Screening will begin at 6:00 p.m. Graduate reserved seating will be blocked off and labeled. Spots will be selected via a lottery system. Five chairs will be provided per graduate (Bring your own chairs). Beyond the reserved area, all others wishing to view the graduation ceremony are asked to participate from their vehicles and adhere to all social distancing guidelines

Judge Mitchell has signed an attestation for us to be able to have an outdoor ceremony with restrictions. 

Between May 15 and May 31, 2020, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the "Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas" (April 27, 2020) that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony 

To host graduation on May 16th, we will need to be compliance with the following guidelines

Outdoor ceremonies must meet the following requirements: 

• School systems must cap the number of total participants (inclusive of students, families, and staff) to a level that can be managed in the outdoor venue to maximize social distancing, both during the event and during entry and exit. 

• School employees and school facilities must comply with the guidance for School Employees in School Facilities except as authorized by this guidance. 

• Students and parents (or legal guardians) must comply with the guidance on Student Noninstructional Visits except as authorized by this guidance. 

Schools using non-school facilities to perform graduation or end-of-year promotion ceremonies must ensure compliance as if the non-school facility were a school and as authorized by this guidance. 

Prior to attending the ceremony, participating students and attending family members must be screened (via questioning) by school system employees for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19: 

o Cough o Chills o Muscle pain o Sore throat o Diarrhea 

o Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing o Repeated shaking with chills o Headache o Loss of taste or smell o Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit 

o Known close contact with a person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 if exposure to the active confirmed case occurred within the last 14 days. 

Those found with any of these signs or symptoms must be excluded from the activity. 

Graduates or promoting students may only be brought together for one event per class or breakout group. 

No rehearsals will be permitted. 

• Keep 6 feet or more of spacing between all participants, except that members of the same household (five individuals or fewer, excluding the graduate if seated with the household) may be allowed to sit together in the audience but must be at least 6 feet away from any other family group at all times. 

• Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations must be available at all venue entrances

School employees at the ceremony must be limited to the minimum number needed to logistically support the ceremony. 

• Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves are worn by those distributing diplomas or other documents to students. 

. Consistent with the actions taken by many institutions across the state, consider having all employees, students, or other visitors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) while inside any facilities, or if they will come within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of that person's household, except when photos are taken. If available, they should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks. 

• Care should be taken and effort must be made to mitigate virus exposure when participants come into contact with documents and other objects such as diplomas and awards. 

School employees must be stationed appropriately to ensure compliance with all requirements and to limit congregation. 

• A robust communication plan must be in place to address steps to be taken before, during, and after the ceremony to ensure that participants are aware of safety protocols at the ceremony and explicit instructions to graduates or promoting students not to congregate outside of school sponsored ceremonies or events. 

School officials should communicate with students' families prior to the ceremony to determine how many family members will be attending so they can plan appropriately to implement social distancing measures, logistics, and other safety measures. 

• Assigned seating for members of the audience should be considered to more efficiently ensure separation between household groups. 

Specific plans should be developed for arrivals and departures to ensure appropriate social distancing. 

TEA

Guidance for Graduation and End-of-Year Promotion Ceremonies During COVID-19 

May 5, 2020 

tea.texas.gov/coronaviru 

Texas Education Agency 

(512) 463-9000 

disasterinfo@tea.texas.go

The following requirements apply to graduation and end-of-year promotion ceremonies to be conducted in May 2020 and thereafter. As the public health situation changes, these guidelines may be modified 

With the issuance of Executive Order No. GA-21, issued on May 5, 2020, Texas continues the reopening of services in response to the COVID-19 disaster. While schools remain closed to normal in-classroom attendance for instruction, schools seek to fulfill the traditional functions of providing graduation and end-of-year promotion ceremonies. In accordance with Executive Order No. GA-21, the Texas Education Agency provides the following guidance for graduation and end-of-year promotion ceremonies. This guidance will be updated as more information about COVID-19 spread in Texas becomes available and is subject to change. 

In order for a school system to determine if a planned graduation or end-of-year promotion ceremony is permissible under Governor Abbott's current COVID-19 disaster orders, as well as any local orders not in conflict with Governor Abbott's orders, a school system is advised to first consult with its legal counsel regarding such planned activities. Assuming its legal counsel considers the planned activities permissible, the school system could then seek written approval from applicable local jurisdictions tasked with enforcement of COVID-19-related gubernatorial or local orders to engage in the planned graduation or end-of-year promotion ceremony. 

Participation by a student or family member in a ceremony is voluntary and may not be required or compelled by the school. 

1. Completely virtual ceremonies are approved to take place at any time. 

2. Hybrid ceremonies (compilation video of students filmed individually or in small groups) are permitted to take place effective May S under the following conditions: 

School employees, students and parents must comply with the guidance on Minimum Standard Health Protocols on Visits to Schools During Campus Closures except as authorized by this guidance. Schools using non-school facilities to perform graduation or end-of-year promotion ceremonies must ensure compliance as if the non-school facility were a school and as authorized by this guidance. Prior to participating, individuals must be screened (via questioning) by school system employees for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID 19: 

O Cough 

tea.texas.gov 

o Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing O Chills o Repeated shaking with chills o Muscle pain o Headache o Sore throat o Loss of taste or smell o Diarrhea o Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees 

Fahrenheit o Known close contact with a person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 if exposure 

to the active confirmed case occurred within the last 14 days Those found with any of these signs or symptoms must be excluded from the activity. The total number of individuals within close proximity during video filming/photos must not 

exceed five. 

• No rehearsals will be permitted. 

Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations must be available at entrances to the building where filming occurs. Consistent with the actions taken by many institutions across the state, consider having all employees, students, or other visitors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) while inside any facilities, or if they will come within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of that person's household, except when photos are taken. If available, they should 

consider wearing non-medical grade face masks. Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves and mask are worn at all times. 

Care should be taken and effort must be made to mitigate virus exposure when participants come into contact with documents and other objects such as diplomas and awards. Bathrooms, doorknobs, and other commonly touched surfaces must be frequently cleaned and sanitized. A robust communication plan must be in place to address steps to be taken before, during, and after the ceremony to ensure that participants are aware of safety protocols at the ceremony and explicit instructions to graduates not to congregate outside of school sponsored ceremonies or events. If students' family members are to be allowed to observe or participate in a hybrid ceremony, school officials should communicate with students' families prior to the ceremony to determine how many family members will be attending so they can plan appropriately to implement social distancing measures, logistics, and other safety measures. 

3. Vehicle ceremonies where all activities are outdoors are permitted to take place effective May 15 under the following conditions

• Students and parents (or legal guardians) must comply with the guidance on Student Non 

Instructional Visits except as authorized by this guidance. 

Schools using non-school facilities to perform graduation ceremonies must ensure compliance as if the non-school facility were a school and as authorized by this guidance. Prior to attending the ceremony, participating students and attending family members must be screened (via questioning) by school system employees for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19: 

O Cough 

o Feeling feverish or a measured O Shortness of breath or difficulty 

temperature greater than or breathing 

equal to 100.0 degrees o Chills 

Fahrenheit o Repeated shaking with chills 

Known close contact with a o Muscle pain 

person who is lab confirmed to o Headache 

have COVID-19 if exposure to O Sore throat 

the active confirmed case o Loss of taste or smell 

occurred within the last 14 days o Diarrhea Those found with any of these signs or symptoms must be excluded from the activity, Members of the same household (five individuals or fewer, excluding the graduate) may be present in a vehicle with the graduate. School officials should communicate with students' families prior to the ceremony to determine how many family members will be attending so they can plan appropriately to implement social distancing measures, logistics, and other safety measures. Graduates or promoting students may only be brought together for one event per class or breakout group. No rehearsals will be permitted. Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves are worn by those distributing diplomas or other documents to students. Consistent with the actions taken by many institutions across the state, consider having all participants wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) if they will come within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of that person's household, except when photos are taken. If available, they should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks. Care should be taken and effort must be made to mitigate virus exposure when participants 

come into contact with documents and other objects such as diplomas and awards

• School employees at the ceremony must be limited to the minimum number needed to 

logistically support the ceremony. A robust communication plan must be in place to address steps to be taken before, during, and after the ceremony to ensure that participants are aware of safety protocols at the ceremony and explicit instructions to graduates or promoting students not to congregate outside of school-sponsored ceremonies or events. 

4. Outdoor in-person ceremonies are currently permitted for counties as follows: 

Between May 15 and May 31, 2020, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the "Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas" (April 27, 2020) that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony. 

An outdoor ceremony may take place in any county on or after June 1. 

Be advised, this permission is subject to change as underlying public health conditions change. 

Outdoor ceremonies must meet the following requirements

School systems must cap the number of total participants (inclusive of students, families, and staff) to a level that can be managed in the outdoor venue to maximize social distancing, both during the event and during entry and exit. School employees and school facilities must comply with the guidance for School Employees 

in School Facilities except as authorized by this guidance. 

Students and parents (or legal guardians) must comply with the guidance on Student Non 

Instructional Visits except as authorized by this guidance. Schools using non-school facilities to perform graduation or end-of-year promotion ceremonies must ensure compliance as if the non-school facility were a school and as authorized by this guidance. Prior to attending the ceremony, participating students and attending family members must be screened (via questioning) by school system employees for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19: 

O Cough 

o Feeling feverish or a measured o Shortness of breath or difficulty 

temperature greater than or breathing 

equal to 100.0 degrees o Chills 

Fahrenheit o Repeated shaking with chills 

Known close contact with a o Muscle pain 

person who is lab confirmed to o Headache 

have COVID-19 if exposure to o Sore throat 

the active confirmed case o Loss of taste or smell 

occurred within the last 14 days O Diarrhea Those found with any of these signs or symptoms must be excluded from the activity. Graduates or promoting students may only be brought together for one event per class or breakout group. No rehearsals will be permitted. Keep 6 feet or more of spacing between all participants, except that members of the same household (five individuals or fewer, excluding the graduate if seated with the household) may be allowed to sit together in the audience but must be at least 6 feet away from any other family group at all times. Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations must be available at all venue entrances. School employees at the ceremony must be limited to the minimum number needed to logistically support the ceremony. 

Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves are worn by those distributing diplomas or other documents to students. 

Consistent with the actions taken by many institutions across the state, consider having all employees, students, or other visitors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) while inside any facilities, or if they will come within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of that person's household, except when photos are taken. If available, they should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks. Care should be taken and effort must be made to mitigate virus exposure when participants come into contact with documents and other objects such as diplomas and awards. School employees must be stationed appropriately to ensure compliance with all requirements and to limit congregation. A robust communication plan must be in place to address steps to be taken before, during, and after the ceremony to ensure that participants are aware of safety protocols at the ceremony and explicit instructions to graduates or promoting students not to congregate outside of school sponsored ceremonies or events School officials should communicate with students' families prior to the ceremony to determine how many family members will be attending so they can plan appropriately to 

implement social distancing measures, logistics, and other safety measures. 

Assigned seating for members of the audience should be considered to more efficiently 

ensure separation between household groups. Specific plans should be developed for arrivals and departures to ensure appropriate social distancing.