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DOE sets rules for Hawaii graduation ceremonies

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Moanalua High School seniors stand for the National Anthem and Hawaii Pono‘i during graduation ceremonies on May 21 at Aloha Stadium.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Moanalua High School seniors stand for the National Anthem and Hawaii Pono‘i during graduation ceremonies on May 21 at Aloha Stadium.

The state Department of Education has released its gathering rules for this year’s graduation and transition ceremonies.

In-person graduation ceremonies will be allowed, but to protect against COVID-19, the department has provided rules for the events in addition to state and county gathering rules already in place.

“Graduations are such a special milestone for our students and families, especially in Hawaii, and I know it has been difficult having modified ceremonies for the past two years,” Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said in a statement. “We look forward to providing our graduates with the ceremonies that they so deeply deserve while still maintaining the health and safety of our students and staff as a top priority.”

Graduation and transition ceremonies are still in the planning stages, the DOE said in a news release. Dates and other details will be provided in April, although the guidance provided is subject to change depending on any developments that would compromise the health or safety of students and staff.

“This guidance aims to provide flexibility for schools in safely bringing together graduates and families for this momentous occasion as we continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions,” Hayashi said in a statement. “Planning for ceremonies must balance the desire to honor graduates while ensuring that our schools do not create an added risk to exposure and spread of the virus.”

The additional rules can be found at https://www.hawaiipublicschools.org but include the following:

>> Student participation is voluntary. Schools can provide a virtual option for those who do not want to attend an in-person event or to help keep crowd sizes small.

>> Ceremonies must be held outdoors or at a venue with adequate ventilation or fans or filtration systems. Third-party venues that comply with county social gathering rules are allowed.

>> All participants of the ceremonies must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours prior to the ceremony.

>> Graduates will be allowed to bring a pre-arranged number of household members as guests. The amount of guests will be determined by each school based on capacity, and no additional guests will be allowed.

>> Masks must be worn at all times.

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