WEST FARGO — West Fargo and Moorhead Public Schools each announced plans for spring graduation ceremonies Friday, May 8.
The West Fargo school district announced via Facebook Live Friday that it has partnered with Essentia Health to provide in-person, outdoor ceremonies for the Class of 2020.
Community High School’s ceremony is slated for 5:30 p.m. May 28 on the school’s soccer field. West Fargo High School’s graduation is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 31 at the football field, followed by West Fargo Sheyenne’s 4 p.m. May 31 ceremony, which will also take place on the football field.
The Moorhead School District will take a different approach when it hosts a livestream graduation event at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7.
Both school districts were forced to finish the school year remotely due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
In an email to parents, Moorhead High School President Dave Lawrence said the Livestream event will include student speakers, performances and a pre-recorded stage walk. The email states that it will take a full week to record the more than 400 students participating in the stage walk while observing CDC's recommended social distancing guidelines.
"Given the fact that we don't know when we will be able to meet all together in person, we wanted to give our students the experience of walking across the stage even if it is in small, CDC compliant groups. To capture the best of the virtual and the face to face world, we will be taping students walking across the stage in groups of ten practicing social distancing," Lawrence said.
West Fargo Superintendent Beth Slette said the district does have backup plans for its graduation ceremonies in the case of inclement weather. The plan for Community High is to keep the same date and time but move indoors. If the scheduled May 31 graduation date looks undesirable for Sheyenne and West Fargo, the ceremonies will be moved to May 30 with the same time and location.
“Our students have been in school for 12 years, and they deserve a chance to wear a cap and gown, to hear pomp and circumstance,” West Fargo Superintendent Beth Slette said Friday. “They deserve a ceremony and a time in which they can see their peers and say goodbye to their teachers.”
At this time, West Fargo's graduation would be one of the first in the state to have an attendance of 400 to over 1,000 people in a stadium, said Essentia Health Chief Operating Officer Al Hurley during the Facebook Live event.
“To do that does require the discipline and the understanding to create a safe environment for everyone involved,” Hurley said.
Hurley said Essentia will be advising the district to follow the CDC guidelines and guidelines the health care system employs at Essentia relative to the 6-foot social distancing and wearing of masks to prevent spreading any type of air particles.
“With an hour-and-a-half event like that, it is important to have proper seating for all of the guests that are there, but also in that time that they are, again, six foot in distance to each other,” Hurley said.
That restriction will limit some of the normal communal-type activities involved with graduation ceremonies like handshaking and hugging.
On Monday, May 4, Fargo Public Schools announced plans to host virtual graduation ceremonies on originally scheduled graduation days, and physical celebrations in late July.