Dallas ISD’s decision to honor our 2020 graduating seniors with virtual rather than in-person commencement ceremonies is based on one overriding concern: the safety of our students, their families and district staff. District leaders made this decision after much discussion and in-depth consultation with trustees, government officials and the area medical community. This is clearly a responsible call in favor of public health.
In fact, given Dallas County’s current level of COVID-19 activity, the county’s top health authority, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang, has specifically advised school leaders against holding any kind of in-person social gatherings, including vehicle ceremonies.
In a letter to area superintendents in which he cited the advice of the CDC and the Texas Department of Health, Dr. Huang called on school districts to hold only virtual celebrations. He says hosting live events increases the potential for massive spread of COVID-19, especially among those in high-risk groups such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions.
Without question, high school graduation is a momentous time in the lives of students and their families, and everyone wishes circumstances were such that this milestone could be publicly celebrated. Even so, Dallas ISD recognizes its responsibility to make public health our number one priority. Therefore, we respectfully ask students, parents and community members to heed the advice of public health authorities and observe the occasion with the virtual graduation ceremonies planned to honor our students.