Rapid City Area Schools won’t hold any in-person commencement ceremonies later this month.
The school district had previously scheduled ceremonies for July 26, which would have required four separate ceremonies in order to physically distance the district’s hundreds of graduates on the arena floor.
Superintendent Lori Simon said the decision was made with guidance from medical experts, city officials and high school administrative teams.
Simon said tickets were greatly limited, “and in the end, the ceremony would have looked very similar to the virtual graduation.”
The district considered holding the ceremonies outdoors, but local health leaders advised against that, “particularly given this would convene a large, multi-generational crowd,” Simon said, noting the district’s priority is on mitigating risks that could keep students from returning to school safely in the next few months.
“I know this is extremely disappointing for many of our graduates and their families. I wish the circumstances were different,” Simon said, noting cases have increased rapidly West River and in Pennington County for several weeks.
“With tourists continuing to visit South Dakota, a major event taking place at Mount Rushmore (on July 3) and with the impending Rally, local medical experts believe it is unlikely that we will see that trend change in the next few weeks," she said.
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