BISD to hold in-person graduation ceremonies

The Brownsville Independent School District will hold in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies — with social distancing — for each of its high schools on or after June 1 at Sams Memorial Stadium, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez announced Tuesday after Commissioner of Education Mike Morath authorized the move.

BISD, like many school districts throughout the state, had been preparing to hold virtual online graduation ceremonies.

But on Tuesday Morath announced at a news conference in Austin that in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies are approved as long as they comply with social distancing regulations that are part of statewide executive orders in place by Gov. Greg Abbott in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Graduation ceremonies are being scheduled at Sams Stadium, first for Brownsville Early College High School, followed by Lopez, Porter, Rivera, Hanna, Veterans Memoria and Pace. Under the original district calendar in effect before the pandemic started, the ceremonies were to start May 28. That changed based on the timeline Morath authorized Tuesday.

Morath announced new guidance that he said honors the achievements of the graduates while keeping everyone safe through social distancing and the use of facial masks.

He said ceremonies could take place along the lines of those held a few weeks ago at the Air Force Academy in Colorado “with appropriate distancing between people and between family groups while maintaining the best procedures to keep everyone safe.”

Gutierrez welcomed the news.

“We are very excited to hear today’s announcement from Commissioner Morath and the approval of outside and in-person graduation ceremonies,” Gutiérrez said. “The district will be moving forward and will adhere to the guidelines of appropriate social distancing between the graduates and family groups. We need to honor our students’ achievements and this is the best way to celebrate their hard work.”

Morath echoed the sentiment.

“Education as an endeavor for high school students is something they have spent 13 years of their lives on, with educators pouring love and skill into their lives over the course of their educational careers,” he said. “It is important that we honor that achievement as they begin to make a transition to the next phase in life.”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com