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School district eyes options for graduation

Times Observer file photo by Brian Ferry Warren Area High School class of 2020 graduate Autumn Gourley receives her diploma from Principal Jeff Flickner atop Kinzua Dam.

When many state COVID-19 restrictions are removed on May 31, the Warren County School District could move forward with larger indoor events – including graduations.

But, it may not.

Not everyone is comfortable doing so, according to Superintendent Amy Stewart, and the district wants to accommodate as many people as possible.

“With the restrictions coming off, it appears that we’ll be able to gather indoors without percent or gathering restrictions,” Stewart said during Monday’s school board meeting. “My recommendation is going to be that we stick with outdoors.”

“To take an event of that size indoors would prohibit some of our students from participating,” she said. “Some of our students and their families feel very strongly…” about avoiding groups of people.

She recommended the district be “as inclusive as possible” with respect to graduation.

Currently, all of the district’s high schools are planning outdoor graduation events.

The rain-or-shine graduation idea has positive and negatives, she said. “We need to have some sort of a rain plan… we’ll be looking at different days for a Plan B, a Plan C.”

While the district could move full-steam-ahead with indoor gatherings, Stewart said she expects the removal of the restrictions to be more helpful in making decisions for next school year than it will be for changing things in the eleventh hour of the current school year.

There are some programs that have been unable to hold events that could benefit from Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement.

“At this point, we are receiving requests, particularly from music teachers, wanting to hold some concerts,” Stewart said.

She said directors are interested in holding any concerts – even if they have to involve less than the full group of students and have to be held outdoors.

The board expressed no opposition to that idea.

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