Education And Online News Outlet Battle Over The Reality Of Virtual Graduations
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Ivanna Eudora Kean (IEKHS) and Charlotte Amalie (CAHS) high schools will retain plans to host hybrid-walkthrough graduation ceremonies on May 20 and 21, respectively, contrary to a misleading and error-filled article published on May 19 by the Virgin Islands Consortium, the Department of Education said today.
The Consortium article suggested that an interim order issued by the Virgin Islands Board of Education (Board) required the Virgin Islands Department of Education to modify graduation plans for the two St. Thomas high schools; the Board of Education has issued no such order, according to VIDE.
A subsequent article published on May 20 by the Virgin Islands Consortium incorrectly reported that the Department of Education would “continue with walk-thru graduations in St. Thomas, in line with Governor Albert Bryan’s override power,” VIIDE said in a prepared statement.
The Board of Education has not ordered the Department of Education to change any plans for the territory’s 2021 high school graduations; therefore, no “override power” from the Bryan Administration is at play Graduations for the territory’s public high schools include an opening segment with prerecorded speeches and musical performances, an in-person diploma presentation for graduates, and a prerecorded closing with students’ formal cap and gown photos—the three parts amount to a hybrid graduation. While the 2021 graduations have always included in-person components, none of the territory’s public high schools will host traditional, sit-down gatherings this year due to the
Like the St. Croix drive-through graduations on May 18 and 19, the St. Thomas-St. John public high school graduations, which will both be conducted in a walkthrough format, include in-person presentations of diplomas to graduates as they cross the stage and greet dignitaries, as well as inperson attendance by parents/guardians.
A central point in a May 19 interim order issued by the Board of Education following a May 18 emergency hearing on high school graduations in the St. Thomas-St. John District with student council presidents from the two high schools, and officials from the Departments of Education and Health, states that “the Department of Education officials and school administrators shall meet today, May 19, 2021, with Appellants and the Department of Health to determine multiple options that comply with the Center for Disease Control guidelines, including those for inperson graduation ceremonies, for the Charlotte Amalie High School and the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.”
Department of Education, health, and school and district officials met with student body presidents from the two high schools and their adult representatives on the evening of May 19 to discuss in-person graduation options. All parties amicably agreed that the planned, hybrid-walkthrough graduations satisfy health guidelines and the in-person experience.
The Department of Health supports the Department of Education’s plans for drive-through and walkthrough ceremonies as the safest options for public high school graduations in 2021, affirming that these pose the least risk of exposure to COVID-19. A sit-down ceremony poses the highest risk of exposure.