MHS to hold outdoor graduation

Posted 5/12/20

The Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) announced plans to hold an in-person, outdoor graduation ceremony, as defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in a May 5 release, at Mustang Stadium May 21 at 7:30 p.m. This is the original date and time of graduation, which was originally supposed to take place at Sam Houston State University.

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MHS to hold outdoor graduation

Posted

The Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) announced plans to hold an in-person, outdoor graduation ceremony, as defined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in a May 5 release, at Mustang Stadium May 21 at 7:30 p.m. This is the original date and time of graduation, which was originally supposed to take place at Sam Houston State University.

There is a lengthy list of stipulations required by the TEA in order to execute in-person, outdoor ceremonies. These stipulations include, but are not limited to, health screenings (via questions) upon entry, no more than five individuals in a single party with all parties stationed at least six feet away from each other (as well as a cap on the overall visitors), and the graduates involved cannot meet for any type of rehearsal beforehand.

The entire list of stipulations for in-person, outdoor ceremonies, along with all possible ceremony types, can be found at tea.texas.gov/coronavirus.

On Monday, the MCISD School Board thoroughly reviewed the TEA’s four possible graduation options laid out for the state of Texas, which include a virtual ceremony, hybrid ceremony, vehicle ceremony or outdoor in-person ceremony. District officials officially released their decision to hold an in-person, outdoor ceremony Tuesday and notified the graduates via email.

Monday’s agenda included an information item from the high school administration recommending to the central administration that they hold the open air ceremony.

“We are going to base what we do on the best interest of our students, their safety, our staff, their safety and our parents and their safety,” said Smith during Monday’s meeting. “That is our number one goal. Second is trying to create the best memories for our seniors that we can under the circumstances we have.”

District officials also discussed at-home learning and reported a high response rate across the district in regards to students who have been completing assignments online or through the distributed learning packets.

Assistant Superintendent Keith West reported that over 90 percent of the district’s students have turned in completed work while Smith estimated they have at least been in contact with 98 percent of families, even if the work has not yet been submitted.

“It was something that we were very interested and concerned about as far as what it might look like,” said West. “We felt like we would be okay, but it is not like a kid being with a teacher. Long story short, it has really been a pleasant surprise.”

The TEA will track each district’s engagement rate with students throughout the pandemic using a coding process, but say it will not go toward academic accountability ratings.

Despite the high response rate, Smith emphasized the detriments of a lack of personal instruction and stated the situation could lead to a push to create virtual high schools or charter schools.

“This could potentially change the course of public education,” said Smith. “We can tell you right now, although we have over 90 percent of our children turning in work, we do not have the quality instruction that we did when we had our children with us. No one does. We also know that when we return, hopefully this coming fall, that we will have to go through several weeks of remediation to try and catch those kids back up to where they need to be.”

Students that need to participate in summer school will continue to do so virtually or through further learning packets.

In the past, the school’s summer feeding program has mainly served those participating in summer school. Under the circumstances, the district will continue to offer their current drive-through feeding program (which has distributed roughly 600-700 lunches per active day during the pandemic) and base its continuation on participation.

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