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COVID-19 affecting graduation

By Staff, 04/2/20 11:40 AM

PRESCOTT – Graduations will be held at Prescott and Nevada schools, but how, where or when aren’t known at this time.

Robert Poole, superintendent of the Prescott School District, said there will be a graduation and prom, though they both may be on the same night. “We’ll have a prom and graduation once the governor declares things are normal, we’ll have them,” he said. “A lot’s been taken from these kids.”

Poole said if things get worse the PSD may consider a drive-through or remote graduation, but the goal is to have a normal commencement. “The unknowns are the biggest concern right now.”

Nevada School District Superintendent Rick McAfee said Nevada will also have a graduation of some sort. A drive-through is being considered, but he isn’t sure how to keep people in their vehicles. The idea would be for students to drive up, be handed their diploma through the vehicle window and drive off. Another idea, he said, is a virtual graduation where the seniors make short videos of their high school activities, while the valedictorian and salutatorian will record their speeches. The videos would be played when the student’s name is called.

Both districts are doing what they can to make sure the students are getting food. Both districts are giving students enough for three days for breakfast and lunch on Mondays, and enough for Thursday and Friday on Thursdays. The two superintendents agree it’s important to make sure the students have something to eat, as a lot need the extra help.

Poole said he has no idea when school will resume, but doesn’t expect it to before May at the earliest – if it resumes at all this year.

Both districts are trying to make sure their students are still getting educated, though in a modified form. Lessons are made available on-line for both, but for those without internet access, lessons are delivered with meals. McAfee said a lot can be found on nevadaschooldistrict.net for those with internet access.

McAfee said report cards were delivered with meals this week. He added the Nevada district also wants to have a prom, even if it’s in June, but, like everyone else, he’s waiting for guidelines from the state.

Another problem, McAfee said, is districts lose a letter grade on the state’s grading scale for every two weeks they’re closed – regardless of whether it’s the district’s fault or not. The state, he added, needs to make allowances for the current situation and change the law accordingly.

On a more positive note, he said the championship rings for the Blue Jay basketball team have been ordered and could be in soon because of the spring sports season being cancelled. The rings will be presented to the team with a drive-through ceremony.

Poole agrees on the problem of internet access. He said there will be a huge achievement gap between those who have access to the internet and those who don’t. He pointed out some students have homes with books and parents who read to and with them, while others don’t.

Poole isn’t sure how the virus will affect construction of the new Prescott Elementary School. He said there should be no problem submitting the plans to the state and getting approval to let the bids, and has been in contact with the project’s construction company and architect. He added the district should be able to break ground this summer, but has no idea as to what level or extent the virus will keep things from getting done.

The Prescott School Board will meet this month, he said, but no date has been set. He said while the public is welcome, they’re encouraged not to attend. “People don’t need to be out unless they have to.”