By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — It will not be the traditional graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 in the Colfax High School gymnasium packed with friends and family — but the seniors will receive their diplomas.
The Colfax school district will be presenting diplomas to graduating seniors on Wednesday, May 20, Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22, at a designated time assigned to each graduate from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
Graduation was originally planned for Friday, May 15, but because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, all public and private schools in Wisconsin closed March 19 and will remain closed until the end of the school year on June 30.
Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the Department of Health Services “Safer at Home” order on Wednesday, May 13, public and private schools were exempted from the decision so that schools remain closed.
On Friday, May 15, the Colfax school district put out signs along University Avenue in front of the high school honoring the members of the Class of 2020 that had each graduating senior’s name, senior picture and a photograph of when the student was a youngster.
The signs along University Avenue are expected to remain in position for the next week.
According to the graduation plan that has been posted on the school district’s website, students will come to the high school main entrance at a designated time for each student and will turn in their classroom materials before proceeding to the designated area in the school where they will receive their diploma and have their picture taken.
The seniors are asked to wear their graduation cap and gown and will receive their National Honor Society stoles on site before receiving their diplomas.
A photographer from the school will be taking photographs of each student as he or she receives the diploma.
At any time during the process, only seven people will be allowed on the school grounds, and while a limited number of spectators may accompany the students, they must observe the proper social distancing, and all people in the vehicle must be wearing face masks.
Spectators will be limited to one vehicle per family, and there can be no more than seven people inside the vehicle.
All of the passengers must remain inside of the vehicle. Passengers are not allowed in the back of a pick-up truck.
Spectators will be allowed to take a photograph with their graduating senior after the student has received his or her diploma.
If a formal ceremony at a later date can be held within guidelines set by the state and the county, students must remember to bring their diplomas back with them.
According to the information posted on the district’s website, the Colfax school district’s goal is to have a traditional graduation ceremony at some point during the summer.
The plans for a graduation ceremony will be subject to change based on state guidelines for social distancing and safety, although all of the options may include banquets during the same week using the same guidelines.
The options are based on the Badger Bounce Back Plan and what will be allowable for mass gatherings at various benchmarks in the plan.
If there is no limit to the number of people who can assemble under the Badger Bounce Back Plan, a traditional graduation ceremony as had been planned for May 15 could be held either Friday, June 5 or Friday, June 26.
If a graduation ceremony cannot be held in June, the next dates could be July 10, July 24 or August 7.
For the August 7 date, if the Badger Bounce Back Plan is in a phase that only allows gatherings of 50 people, no spectators would be allowed for the graduation ceremony, and the Class of 2020 would be divided into two groups by their four homerooms, and the ceremony would be live-streamed for families to watch.
For the August 7 date, if the Badger Bounce Back Plan is in a phase that limits gatherings to 10 people, the graduation ceremony would be a virtual ceremony live-streamed only with no graduates and no spectators.
If the school district is not allowed to hold a traditional graduation ceremony at all, a virtual graduation ceremony may be provided online after August 7.