On May 29, graduation will look much different than it has in years past. At its regular monthly meeting on Monday night, the Alexandria School Board decided that this year’s graduation will be a virtual one.

While considering the uncertain future and the spread of COVID-19, the board came up with a plan to conduct graduation virtually. Included in this plan, students will have the opportunity to take isolated pictures and participate in a car processional.

The virtual graduation ceremony will take place at 3:30 on a live stream. The district will have a link for spectators on its website. The stream will include speakers and student musical acts like a typical graduation would have.

After the ceremony, students have the option of a drive-thru photo opportunity. This event will be on the live stream and will take place rain or shine. Students will get out of their vehicle one at a time can take a picture on a stage set up near the main entrance of the school. They will get the diploma carrier and can wear their cap and gown.

During the photo portion of the stream, the board made it clear that students will need to move quickly and abide by social distance guidelines. Students will be in scheduled time slots. The board will limit the photo opportunity to one car per student. Families are allowed to be in the vehicle with the student, but the school will permit only one car at a time during the drive-thru service.

After the photo stream, Alexandria police and the fire department will lead the students in a car processional. Students can follow a route around town where they will go by the grade schools in Alexandria.

While this is similar to a parade, the board wants to avoid large gatherings of people and encourage people to participate safely. There will be a limit to one car per family in the processional.

While many districts around the state have made graduation plans sooner, the board wanted to wait until they had the right guidance to come up with a safe decision. In the days leading up to Monday’s meeting, Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement to lift the stay-at-home order impacted the direction of the graduation. The board did not want to make a plan for the students and have to backtrack.

“The last thing we want is for this senior class to feel slighted,” Superintendent Julie Critz said.

The board had the choice to hold out for the possibility of an alternative commencement on July 24. Still, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus and the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing as time goes on, they felt that going through with a virtual graduation was the right choice.

Principal Chad Duwenhoegger and the board plans to honor the students later this summer with a senior gathering. This will include a cookout celebration when the time is right. If it’s not logical to hold this even in the summer, the school will wait and find a time to honor the students with a gathering in the fall.